Thursday, March 25, 2010

Matan in Bhutan

picture from the conference

so, how many hours a day can a refrigerator be off electricity before the food goes bad?

I wonder if we're up to 50:50 on and off. We know the milk goes bad. Maybe everything else is slowly deteriorating, too?

Didn't go in to work today, but am finishing up grading. Went to my bangla class and to the American Center to get mail and the guards told me I was done with my Fulbright and no longer on the list of people to get in. Though there are days when it feels like that, I did say we were here until June. It seems to be straightened out. It's true the documents do say until May when our semester ends, but Matan's school is through June 10th, so we will be in Dhaka until then!

Then I went to the American Club and had a gentle breakfast and looked over the mail: a comp text for the summer class. Have to make a decision soon. I was really pleased that it got here even though the size and shape made it too big for the diplomatic pouch.

And finally, home, where I could nap, work, and have close access to the bathroom. I even cleaned, though the ironing did not get done between papers to grade and electrical outages.

Matan's at a track event. It's so odd that I can see (online) that he was late this morning and wonder if he had a detention and how that worked out with track. Yup, he was pushing it this morning, leaving at the last minute and his bike has another puncture so he was relying on rickshaws. It was probably faster for him to walk parts of it.

Tomorrow we're off to Nepal. Hope this goes well. I'm looking forward to the seder and the vacation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

conference and feeling great, for awhile

So the conference was wonderful -- the keynote really well crafted if I do say so myself. Many compliments. And the rest of the day very interesting, though much of it was in Bangla and I really wished that I would have understood more.
(One of my students, Josephine, took this picture. I was apparently concentrating and didn't notice!)

I had Friday off and did very little. some days are just recovering from everything. Saturday we had the second half of the conference and I was late and supposed to be welcoming the many 9 and 10 year olds who had come to workshops on writing! It was fascinating to see the different facilitators from creative writing, Sesame Street and other places working with these young folks. I also got a chance to talk to their teachers on the subject of English/Bangla, something that really interests me as the students study in such very different schools.

(Also got a lot of prep work done while I was in the office all day long!).

Sunday I got back to Bangla lessons, and water aerobics, and brought home pizza from the American club. feeling great. not even hearing all of the traffic noises.

Have to encourage Matan to study since this is the last week of the quarter and he's on the edge of so many grades, both up and down. I wish I knew better how to help him remember -- he does the work and then it's out of his mind before it gets to the teacher. Or that he has actually some homework in a different class. I know the answer is probably using the planner, but we've gone over that so many times and it just isn't working for him. Any ideas?

So I'm caught up in my teaching and most of my grading, and then, of course, it's been about 10 days of feeling well, and boom, yesterday morning, stomach upset again.

I went through the day quite gingerly: the generator was out at school, so we'd have electricity for an hour, and then none. Usually the generator picks up the computers, fans, lights, AND the elevators. So we don't notice that we're off the grid until it starts getting warm since the air conditioner doesn't run on generator. Yesterday we had none of the above. I just stayed up on the 13th floor. Good thing I brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and banana bread.

But today I couldn't move. Could not leave the apartment this morning with my stomach as upset as it was. Got an appointment at the clinic (the only one they had open for today) and said, yup it's me again. Sent out more samples. Got antibiotics -- if it doesn't clear up in a day or two. But at least we'll be in Nepal with the antibiotics in hand. And the questions seemed to be focused on the water now. Bottled water is not 100% certain, especially in the dry season when all of the water becomes worse. So I'll get water from only one particular company. No more brushing teeth with tap water -- it might have been ok when we got here, but that's just it, things change. After we get back from Nepal, I'll get a filter and boil and filter water to have confidence in the quality control. sigh. meanwhile, it's so hard to be upbeat and energetic.

Did get hotel reservations in Nepal, I think. After many email requests came back with everything full, and the orbitz not having anything either, I started to get a bit nervous. So I made some phone calls and if they understood me, and I understood them, we have 3 different hotels for the 10 days. 2 in Kathmandu and 1 in Pokhara. As I said, not very energetic here, and just hoping that it's a good trip.

Hope to take more good pictures and to put some up of the conference!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


very interesting that writing the talk on children's lit has provoked so much discomfort in me. writing is always challenging, but this time I'm pushing myself to think about teaching and researching. most of my presentations, in the last 5 years, I'd say, have been about teaching -- pedagogical aspects of online learning or women's studies and community, or even autobiography in the comp classroom. but it's been a long time since I've worked more on the research aspect and tried to wean myself away from how I see everything as a teacher. interesting. I think I had to come away from my comfort zone in a teaching institution and re-situate in a department with a research component in order to figure out how this fits for me.

I'm sure that I had to do laundry and make hamburger buns while I was writing in order to push through the challenge. :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

chicken soup cooking

also started antibiotics for something that is apparently bacterial gi infection.

if one doesn't work, I figure the other will.

did go to work today, but fell asleep on the desk. helped students with drafts. uh, when I was awake. I do not do that in my sleep.

first time I went to the Commissary on a Sunday. oops. it's not open on Sundays.

so, not operating at full speed, but hoping to do better soon.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

yes, I felt that earthquake

this morning at about 5:15am.

rolled over and went back to sleep.

modem is fried.
hotel is full in Kathmandu.
my stomach will not calm down.

some days.

Friday, March 12, 2010

so I thought I was almost better on Tuesday

but the worst was still ahead.

Wednesday I did teach. good thing it was pretty much all prepared in advance. Thursday I stayed home and it was actually the worst day. One of those food poisonings or stomach upsets that leaves me wanting to eat nothing but bottled water and toast for the rest of my life. ok, the rest of my stay here. Ironically I did see the doctor on Monday, seemed to be fine, just a fever, and then, the following days, it was like getting hit by a tornado. Maybe the fever was the warning before all hell broke loose.

So. still working on the keynote. thought about it a lot as I slept this week.

Also booked the tickets for the spring break in Nepal. Seder in Kathmandu.

And Shaked got accepted to her summer program in France so we can now book her tickets -- she's coming to Dhaka in May before France. We'll see how the tickets go to see whether she returns to the States or continues on from here.

and the computer expert is coming over and I'm hoping my computer will connect to the internet again.

and, quite possibly, the tax situation will be somewhat less onerous than it seemed. not a lot, but some.

Matan's group in Bhutan

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

what a day

Still home with a pretty upset gastro system. But the fever's down and I should be back to work tomorrow. Writing most of today.

at least there's this to listen to: Kris Kristofferson on "Pilgrim's Progress".

Am I young enough to believe in revolution
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray
Am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way

I get lazy, and forget my obligations
I’d go crazy, if I paid attention all the time
And I want justice, but I’ll settle for some mercy
On this Holy Road through the Universal Mind

I got lucky, I got everything I wanted
I got happy, there wasn’t nothing else to do
And I’d be crazy not to wonder if I’m worthy
Of the part I play in this dream that’s coming true

Am I young enough to believe in revolution
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray
Am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way

Thanks to Matan for reminding me it was on the old MP3 player. I know it's missing on the new one.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

vacation on-site

Looking back, this week has had quite a lot of ups-and-downs, and yet it hasn't been a bad week. I have been at the American club more than usual, since I started taking my swim suit bag to work and have gotten dropped off to swim around 5pm. It's in the 90s here during the day (32-33C), so the pool has gotten warm enough to be a pleasure.

I realize this is an island in the city; maybe I need some time on the island.

I'm here at the club again this Sat morning since internet isn't working for me at home. Matan's computer works, but he wants it! So I left after I got the load of laundry hung, and came over here to work. Lots of people I know here, fulbrighters, families, friends, Matan's teachers. I'll go swimming when the sun isn't quite so high overhead.

Matan got back from Bhutan on Thursday. He said the trekking was very challenging but that he was able to keep up. Some of the kids got left behind for some city touring since they clearly were not up to 5-6 hours a day of hiking. I suppose it's better that way, I don't think they could wait for people who couldn't get to the day's destination. I'll see if he'll let me post some of his pictures or if the teachers have some that he might be in! His camera screen was broken so he was guessing -- still he took 50 pictures and I got some commentary.

The challenges this week had to do with plagiarism and reconsidering how the course has to be taught. It's not enough to have them figure out how the parenthetical citations should look in their papers (there pretty much aren't any citations); I'll have to show them how they look in papers done correctly. It's not a revision issue, it's brand new to them. Or so they say. But intellectual property is just not the same concept here: our textbook is photocopied.

Other than that, the tax stuff is disturbing, but we'll be ok.

Only three more months to get everything done. Shaked is planning to come in May, so she'll get that urgent final opportunity/drive to see all of the sites I haven't seen yet!

Finally, I'm working on a keynote speech for a conference in two weeks. On Children's Literature. More to come. This weekend I read Mirror Mirror, a take-off on Snow White. Warming up for writing.

Meanwhile, better finish the grading...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

one last ornery note

even the little reece's peanut butter cups were cruddy. don't think it was mold -- they didn't smell bad or taste wrong, but they had grown or morphed little bumps on the top, and I just don't appreciate them looking that way. I'm willing to try lots of new things and risk occasional upset stomach, but the old things, they should look the way I'm used to.

and the doctor asked yesterday if I was deliberately losing weight. I said no. but have I ever tossed out 95% of a bag of Reeces?

another way to think about the Fulbright

It's been an ornery day.

Before 6am, I found 2 plagiarized papers. I am particularly pissed because I want to read with trust -- to believe my students have come up with these ideas and this prose. I don't want to suddenly think, oops, another sentence I'd better run by google.

Gave midterms today. Didn't get papers graded to give back. Takes a whole lot longer when I have to run so many of them through google.

And my home computer is no longer connecting to the internet. Modem seems to be dead. Matan's computer is still good, but I suspect he'll want to use it occasionally when he gets back tomorrow.

What else? Narrowing down our spring break plans to Nepal pretty much as everything else costs over $1000 for two people for airfare. I'm fine with trekking and Nepal is beautiful. Need to stop comparing others' choices. Ok, yes, Bali and Malaysia and Thailand.

Must write keynote speech. Children's Literature conference in 2 weeks.

finally, we could think about fulbright funding as our choice to come for a year, and we chose to bring Matan, and that was expensive. financially, yes, it would have been far wiser to come alone for one semester and find a room, rather than an apartment. But that would have been such a different experience and Matan wouldn't have been able to come for just one semester (at least that's what we thought at the time. I think now we could have, just wouldn't have gotten any funding. even without funding and with Matan, one semester would have been less expensive). but very different.

anyway. going out again tonight. and I've been swimming most days this week.

Are you sure you can afford that Fulbright grant?

If our preliminary tax preparation doesn't change by much, it looks like we owe over one-third of the Fulbright grant back in increased income taxes. Taking into consideration the tuition we paid for Matan's international high school (even with the generous subsidy, also highly taxed), that means that the grant covered exactly the taxes and tuition. Therefore, Peleg family, MN, paid the flights, the visas, the extra health insurance for dependents, the rent, the food, the transportation, the classes, the clothes, ... stop me here, I don't know if I really want to come out of denial yet.

Not to mention any consequences for our daughter seeking financial aid at college since it looks like there was an increase in income. Not sure subsequent return in income tax payments shows through quite as clearly.