From the intellectual den of Facebook, someone was rather pleased that New York City banned styrofoam cups:

“Wish this law was enacted when I was 15, working at McDonalds, and watching all the goofballs get their 32 ounce iced teas in styrofoam. Admittedly, I tried to take matters into my own hands, and refuse to serve drinks in styrofoam, while educating people in the drive-thru about the harms of styrofoam when they demanded their “cool cup”. I was later told by management to STFU and just give out the styrofoam cups. Now, over a decade later, NEW YORK BANS STYROFOAM!!!! “

Fascinating how some people make caricature pointless.

Throwback Thursday: Friday Night Lectures on the Sunshine Campus

I tend to distance myself from any China writing I did from 2008 till early 2010. While I was never shaken by China, some of that early writing is still amateurish, misguided and compared to where I am now, a tad embarrassing.

That being said, there are some gems. For Throwback Thursday, I’ll be reposting them until I run out, which means this should probably last another couple Thursdays:

Entry 17: Friday Night Lectures on the Sunshine Campus (originally posted March 26, 2009)

Concentrated Oral English Training Centre.

We have gone from a semester of Concentration Camp to Concentrated Oral English. We have gone from extremely offensive to hmmmm? If the classes are concentrated, then what are the students? Concentrated? Or just concentrating? Let me know.

The routine last semester was to hold English Corner on Friday nights. Although it’s understandable because that’s when all the students were available, there were two obstacles stopping most foreign teachers. It’s on the New Campus. It’s on Friday night.

The first isn’t bad until you combine it with the second. As a result, asking a foreign teacher to do the English Corner went from a “Would you mind doing the English Corner?” to “There is 1 million RMB sitting on the New Campus. Yeah, it’s right there.”

Under the net.

The English Corner wasn’t so bad. They provided you with free drinks and there were plenty of opportunities to meet and talk with students. Aside from the location and time, one issue was the questions that would come up. You are a foreigner. They have probably never met a foreigner before. So it makes sense that they would get curious.

How long have you been in China? Can you use chopsticks? Do you like Chinese food? Do you like China? What do you think of [city you’re in]?

And my all-time favorite: why did you come to China? One student asked me this with clear surprise in her voice. But she’s an English major. She’ll find out in a few years.

I had not been to an English Corner since October or so. Two weeks ago, they asked me to do a lecture for English majors. When?

Friday night.

Jesus. Where?

New Campus.


I asked them to move it to the old campus (where I live). They couldn’t. Then Elise proposed the following: Molly and I do the lecture together.

We combined our classes one day and played games. We played Hangman, Head’s Up 7-Up, and Musical Chairs. During the last one, they opted to ignore the music and sit down whenever they wanted, despite repeated reminders not to. It added a nice element of chaos that I really appreciated.

Elise took this idea and gave us the lecture. Molly prepared the topic, made an outline, and told her non-English major students to meet them at Building 7 where it’s supposed to be held.

Except Elise then told us it’s supposed to be in Building 3. D’oh!

On a cold Friday night, we took the bus and got off at the first stop. At building 7 to tell her students to go to building 3. Students weren’t there. We waited. Finally, ten minutes after it was supposed to start, the student organizer Patricia comes running up frantic. She’d already gathered Molly’s students and directed them to the right place. D’oh!

We entered to applause and lots of pictures. We lectured to silence, an occasional laugh, and lots more pictures. We ended with even more pictures. Your students will want to take pictures with you. Let them.

Oh, and the questions. Did I mention that? We did college life, American university life where the emphasis is typically anywhere but on the University part. At the end we opened the floor to Q & A.

A girl got the mic and related the history of an athlete named Carl Lewis. I’m not talking about a few notable accomplishments, but she gave me a thorough biography. I knew a question was coming, and I was hoping her recitation might shed some clues on what I should say.

No such luck. She asked, “How is he doing with the cancer?”


“But you’re American! You know who he is!”

She got upset. Visibly agitated that I don’t know who he is. Or was.

How is doing with the cancer?

Journey through Nanking and The Seven Year Laowai: FREE until May 21!


If the 99 cents price tag was holding you back, then rest easy: The Journey through Nanking and The Seven Year Laowai are both FREE on Smashwords until May 21.

If you read them, leave a review on Amazon or Smashwords. Even negative reviews are fine. And if you think you have nothing of substance to say beyond “this is great” or “this sucks”, go ahead and review it anyways. Reviews go further than you may realize, especially for indie authors and the like who don’t have a strong marketing department supporting them.