Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Change

As my work-life changed from being at a work-place to being predominantly at home, I was confronted with the challenge to change my habits. It is far too easy to be lazy at home.

Today can be a landmark of sorts. It is the first day at home that I have worked myself to exhaustion at home. After one spell of typing, my arms had a sudden feeling that I could type no longer on the computer. I even felt a little dizzy (thought I might have another tinnitus attack, but apparently not).

After all that, I went and did a practice test for HSK, which probably was not the best choice of times to do so, I completely missed a few of the listening questions. I think the test was harder too, and I probably wouldn't have matched my previous scores anyway. Needless to say, my score was lower than expected.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lixiang de Jinxingqu

Along with my work, I now have an immediate goal, the HSK Chinese examination on October 15th. For this test, I must be the most well-prepared person around. On my last trip to China, over a year ago, I bought big on books to prepare for it.

It must assess certain skills quite reliably because in the two successive times I took the practice test I got virtually the same result. That being said, it neglects two major skill areas; speaking and writing - a bit like Chinese TOEFL/TOEIC etc. It also is almost completely multichoice - which pedagogically speaking is not a good test design (easy to mark though). It essentially tests how well people do multichoice rather than language ability. Having written answer questions etc. is superior. The Japanese Proficiency Test has similar shortcomings.

One of the aspects of these are that they usually require memorisation and test technique. For example, it will simply ask you what something means, sometimes without much context. Idioms and proverbs are thrown in, and you might have to recall the meaning, or worse, choose which is the correct third character etc. In such situations, I revert to the abhorrent of learning techniques - the kind I tell all my students to avoid - rout learning and the like. I can actually do such base methods well. I found an excellent website ( which has a 7 day trial period but has lessons for HSK. One is a lesson to teach 800 idioms (of which I already know about 30). It says: "Approximately 72 days (Based on 50min Study/Day) "
Bah! I can learn them in seven days. And well my memory function is pretty efficient. In three days, I have consumed over half of it. Already I heard a couple of them that I learnt on the Chinese radio - which is good, as it shows that I have learnt them.

I will re-do the test tomorrow and also on Sunday to practice my exam technique and to evaluate the points that I need to really focus on in the last two weeks of preparation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Pick-me-up

Well, after a bit of disappointment with work, lately I have had some success - some of it completely out of the blue.

On Thursday, suddenly a new teaching option arose: Teaching Chinese! Some workers at F&P were interested in studying Chinese, and as they go on work-trips to China - F&P are interested in having me teach. So, suddenly I have another stable class. I have actually taught Chinese before, to a friend. But the amount of extra time to prepare caught me by surprise. It has taken a little bit of time to rearrange my thinking.

Then on Monday, I had two interviews, one with the Chamber of Commerce, and the other with NZ Police. Neither gave immediate openings, but gave a way to proceed. It was also quite exciting.

And now just 10 minutes ago, I got a call on my cellphone - from one of the companies I sent my one page proposal to. Surprisingly, for budgetting purposes, she wanted to know my price structure for reference.

All of these give me reasons to push on - if I had one more full(ish) day of work at another business - I would be able to be easily making in three days what I were in one week at a language school.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hard Going

My one-man business has not really gathered any momentum. I only have one realistic lead secondary lead currently and although I still rate it as realistic, I have done what is an admission of defeat:

I applied for another job.

And I am seriously considering re-starting my primary school applications. It pains me to do so, but I have been feeling rather down about the whole employment thing. I NEED a regular job to get some rhythm out of my life. My business is softening my brain.

Anyway, back to work.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I'm so lame

Well, just as my running programme was gaining a bit of momentum I have received a rather sudden and unpleasant setback.

Last night, I decided to step up the distance and time of my running. I set off after 7pm after a busy day. I made the goal of running at least 30 minutes in a random loop run. So I weaved through suburbia, reaching the corner of Manukau and Greenlane Rd at the most distant point of my run, before my turn for home. I came back from there along The Drive, weaved down Empire Rd and then onto St Andrews. I crossed to the right hand side of the road when I noticed that the footpath disappeared into a lower part below the level of the road, also serving as a driveway for many homes. I had seen these before and often you can go through them and re-emerge with the road, so I decided to chance it and go down. But this was not a good choice. Being off the road, there was limited light and it was hard to see exactly where my feet were going. I ran for about 20 metres when I discovered to my annoyance that the path was not a thoroughfare, and I came to a dead end. So I turned and went back up when after a few paces, my left foot entered a dip of some sort (I will investigate at a later date, in the light of day). My ankle rolled overbalancing me and throwing me into the ground. I knew exactly what had happened and rolled on my back to mention a few things to the starry sky.

I got up gingerly and looked and felt the damage. My ankle was sprained, but I didn't know exactly to what extent. My knees and hands were warm and more than a little bit grazed. Blood ran down from my right knee. One thing I knew from my last sprain is that you shouldn't rest it until you are where you can rest for a long time. If I rested, it would swell and then be impossible to walk on. So I limped home for 20 minutes on my injured foot.

Once home I realised that it was not the same foot as what I sprained last year. Not good! Spraining makes your whole ankle weak permanently. Now I have two ankles which that has happened too. A brief look at my new shoes also show a puncture mark on top of my left shoe. Obviously the force of my fall had damaged them.

On the bright side, the sprain is far milder than my previous sprain. There is very little bruising and I am more mobile now than at a previous stage last time. Also it was treated earlier and better. Last time, I could only hop for three days, my sprained foot not being able to cope with any weight. So I will delay all other running for at least a month or three. My planned Birthday Walk would be a little in doubt, although I will probably do it anyway.