2009 Archive

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(▲ Links to the pages at the same level as this page. If you can't see the label, put your mouse over a button and look at the bottom of your browser.)

Jan 2009

Feb 2009

Mar 2009

Apr 2009

May 2009 Jun/Jul 2009

August 2009

Sep 2009

Oct 2009

Nov 2009 Dec 2009

Note: various links or other references may be mentioned below that no longer apply. Sorry for the inconvenience.


January update (Jan 4, 2009)                                       


       The New Year has begun, and Chinese New Year is only a few weeks away. On January 26, we leave the year of the mouse and start the year of the ox. Let's hope that means we can be "bullish" (positive) about the future! Tomorrow I give a final exam to my 120 post-grad students, so I'm looking forward to the "Spring Break" that begins once I turn in my grades later this week. I begin teaching again on February 25, so we'll have over a month away from regular teaching duties. I work day and night while teaching (preparing materials and lesson plans, and marking papers), so I'm looking forward to some rest. I'll also be working on materials for the next term, and hopefully can give this website some long-overdue updates, too.

      Andrew's school is on a more "western" calendar, so he had two weeks off for Christmas/New Year (and starts back tomorrow). Vivian's tasks never end, but maybe the next month will give her more rest than usual as well.

       We know that January won't be "all work" because we're also looking forward to a visit from an American friend, and to a week-long trip to Hong Kong for the annual Jian Hua Foundation conference. We also plan to invite friends over for a movie night and game night sometime soon.

       December was full of Christmas fun. Over the next few weeks, I hope to add more photos to this year's Christmas fun page (you can also see memory-pages for 2007, 2006 and before). As always, look on the bottom of this "Current Update" page to find out "what is new."

       Before I close, I'll simply say it has been a delight to teach this semester's post-grads at Kunming Medical University. We took a group photo recently, so I'll paste it on the "Students now" page.

       If you missed it last month, click here to read a poem I wrote a few years ago when economic times were also pretty bad (especially for a recent grad); it helped me put things in perspective as few things like Christmas can! May the joy of these holidays help you get the new year off to a good start. While it's true that the world is filled with problems, there is also a lot to be thankful and optimistic about!


Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Michael for the family    (back to top) 

February update (Feb 11, 2009)


       We were having a wonderful time in Hong Kong until February 7 (at a conference for expatriates), so I'm posting this page late. As I said last month, I return to classes on Feb. 25, but Andrew is already back in school. Vivian is busy working on the forms we have to file for US taxes (among many other tasks), and I'm getting ready for next term while trying to update and file things on my computer. Yesterday I picked up 70 copies of the textbook I'll use with my post-grad students (Great Ideas from Cambridge Press), and I'm looking forward to continuing to teach these great students.

       It is chocolate and flower time again--that's right, the signs of Valentine's Day are even visible here in China. Because of the holiday's growing popularity, I've just posted a new page that introduces this interesting historic celebration.

       I hope to post more pages before school resumes, so check the "what is new" section later this month, but that's all for now!


     Enjoying Kunming's early spring, Michael for the family       (back to top) 


What is new? My main goal for February was to finish some pages about our wonderful summer trip to Alaska, so there are now four main pages for you to look at! Enjoy the beautiful animals and scenery! Also (in addition to the new family photo above), I added an introduction to Valentine's Day to my "holiday collection", added a newspaper clipping (in Chinese) about the Yunnan Friendship Award, added more photos (finally) of our 2008 "Christmas fun," and added some old "college days" photos to the Pennsylvania page. I also finished adding student essays about some challenges that face China.

March update (Mar 4, 2009)


       The new term is under way. I have fewer classes this term, but that could change any day. The orphanage Board of Trustees meetings are coming this weekend, so preparation for that has been keeping Vivian busy, and of course there are always lots of extra things to do. As you'll see in the "what is new" section (below), I've added a new EFL Movie Study Guide (Paulie), and completed four main pages about our summer Alaska trip, as well as adding resources for my students.

       That's all for now, but things are always changing so be sure to look at "what is new" whenever you visit!


In windy Kunming, Michael for the family       (back to top) 



April update (Apr 5, 2009)                              


        In March, Michael got three extra classes (sophomores, to add to his three post-graduate classes). They are attentive students, who are losing their fear of opening their mouths. Several have said that most of their English classes have focused on reading and learning words or grammar, so it is a refreshing change to focus on speaking English during Michael's classes.

       The end of March also brought some medical needs. A pain in Vivian's foot led us to get help from two of Michael's former students, who discovered that she has a bone spur. We are grateful that they helped her start "walking" down the road to recovery. Michael's chest had also been uncomfortable, so current students and the university's Foreign Affairs Office went out of their way to help him get several heart-tests done. The results showed that his heart is very healthy, so the pain must be related to diet or the digestion system, and new medicine has already started to help him feel better.

        April 2 was Andrew's 16th birthday. In addition to dinner at Pizza Hut on the second, Vivian made him a cake and he invited some classmates for an overnight party. I’ve used this as an excuse to update Andrew's page—click here to see the new photos.

       Vivian remains busy with office-volunteer responsibilities. Last month we met with the orphanage Board of Trustees, and this month we are expecting important visitors from Hong Kong for additional important meetings.

       Finally, this year April has both a Chinese and a Christian lunar holiday related to "graves." April 6 is Qingming (清明), or "tomb-sweeping day." Many friends and colleagues are going off to mountainsides or graveyards to clean the grave of an ancestor. An interesting custom related to this holiday is that they burn paper copies of things the deceased person might need in "heaven," like a car, new clothes, a cell phone, a house, and (most popularly) money. The other holiday is Easter (复活节), April 12, when Christians in China and around the world celebrate the “empty tomb,” i.e., the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified. He told his followers that they didn’t need to fear death anymore, because his sacrifice provided everything we need for eternal life. (You can read a children’s story I wrote about Easter by clicking here.)
       So, it will be another busy month, but Easter in particular makes April a wonderfully joyous time of year for us, and we hope it will be for you too!


In Kunming,     Michael & Vivian       (back to top) 



May update (May 9, 2009)

     Where does the time go? It is the ninth, and I've just realized that I have not added a May update. I guess it is just a particularly busy time of the year. In the past two weeks I've given an exam to my grad students and a quiz to my undergrads. And while Vivian does a lot of the grading, I grade the "hard part" (subjective items), which takes a lot of time to mark. On top of that, we've been battling colds and computer problems, as well as entertaining guests from out-of-town or preparing for more of the same. The latter is a joy (we are looking forward to a visit from Michael's sister and her husband this month), but viruses (in our bodies or computers) certainly sap our strength and time.
     As always, you can see recent changes in the "What's new" section below. I hope to update the Far and Away movie guide in the next day or two, but otherwise I wouldn't expect many new things in the weeks ahead. Hopefully I'll have time to do more in June and during the summer.

Busy as always,
Michael & Vivian
    (back to top)  


What is new? In April I made major changes/additions to the Narnia Movie Study Guide and to Andrew's page, and added a page called "Fun with Students & Friends." In March, we added a movie study guide for Paulie, and I've started to add free wallpaper. I also added more comments for foreign teachers related to the TEM-4 exam (as well as an exercise related to topic sentences and conclusions).



June/July  (June 20, 2009)

     June is two-thirds over (so I won't change this update again until August), but it is not hard to understand why a teacher is busier than usual at this time of year. I gave my final exams last Thursday, and Vivian and I are still working on marking them all. My graduate school classes also finished last week. It was hard to say goodbye after spending a year with these bright "future doctors."
     Speaking of doctors, another reason for my inability to create an update is that I had minor surgery two weeks ago. A cyst was removed from my leg/seat area, so it is (still) painful to sit down. I can stand for hours when I'm teaching, but it is hard to stand in my office and type for more than a few minutes! This inability to sit has led to a lot of time lying on the sofa with movies on. While that has been enjoyable, my "to do on the computer" list just keeps getting longer.
     People ask what we plan to do this summer. Well, as mentioned above, I have a list of "things to do" that I couldn't complete in a lifetime, while Vivian and Andrew could probably say the same. Most of our "projects" involve a computer, so once my wound clears up, that is where I will be (and most of the time, all three of our home computers are running at the same time). Andrew will be taking summer school courses (via the Internet) to get him up to the level expected by his new Internet-based high school. The Kunming International Academy (where he has been happily studying since 2005) raised their prices so much that we couldn't afford to keep him there next year--his tuition fee would be higher than my salary at the Medical University.
     In addition to the change in Andrew's school, my own university is moving to Cheng Gong. The new campus is over an hour away, so I'll be spending a lot of time next year on a bus. There are no apartments near the school, so we will keep living in Kunming (unless our rent goes up, in which case we'll have to weigh our options). These changes, of course, will limit Andrew's contact with friends and limit our cherished interaction with students, but we really don't have many options. Hopefully, things will work out OK, or we'll find a better situation for the following year.
     Other summer plans include a few days in Guilin to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, followed by time in Hong Kong to help lead a seminar for newly-arriving professionals who plan to work in China. Otherwise, we will just stay in Kunming and try to shorten our "to do" lists!
     Well, I'd better close. I haven't added much to this website lately, but look at the "What is new" section below to see changes or additions. Maybe I'll get around to a few more additions over the summer.

Tired of changes, but still enjoying life in China,
Michael for the family
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August/September update (August 19, 2009) 
     Summer has been fun, and now we are looking forward to meeting new students (and trying to stay in touch with busy former students, too!). Over the next week or so, Michael will be getting materials ready, because university classes are about to resume. But as the summer fades away, it is clear that we won't be able to update our website as we had hoped. Sorry if you find pages that are out of date and links that no longer work. There is always so much to do, and so little spare time!
     For most of July, the three of us spent a lot of time working on our computers. Michael was sorting files, and converting VHS tapes into DVDs (it is a slow process, but the results have been good). Andrew has been playing games, but he has also been learning to use new software and taking some classes via the Internet. (This will help him prepare for "home schooling," which starts a week from now.) Vivian has been working on various projects, including preparation for her lectures at an orientation program for foreign professionals who are new to China. 
     Because our 20th Wedding Anniversary fell in early August, we decided to celebrate in Guilin. Michael has been wanting to take Vivian and Andrew there for many years, but we could never find the time. He visited twice while studying in Xiamen (1985-87). It is just as beautiful as he remembered it, though it was much hotter than we all expected! Next time, we won't go in August! (Sorry, we haven't had time to create a web page from our hundreds of photos, but you'll now find Guilin on our free wallpaper page!)
     After visiting Guilin, we went to Hong Kong. There, we helped with an orientation program (as mentioned above). We are grateful for the chance to help others get started in a fulfilling career in this wonderful country. While thinking about that, Michael wrote a new article to tell people about the benefits of working "in a place where people need you."
     As always, keep your eyes on the "What is new?" section below to see what changes on our website. If you are new to Krigline.com, there is plenty to see (even if some of it is out of date!).

Getting ready for an active autumn,
The Kriglines   
    (back to top) 



September         (back to top)  



October update (October 3, 2009)

     We had a busy September, meeting new students, traveling back and forth to my school's new campus in Cheng Gong, and helping Andrew get started as a "home schooler." At the moment we are in a week-long holiday, celebrating National Day and the annual Mid-Autumn Festival. While we enjoy a bit of rest, we will also be keeping our computers busy, creating teaching resources, trying to get files organized, and staying in communication with friends both near and far.
     On October 1, we took the time to watch the televised festivities from the capital city. Seeing the Forbidden City once again brought back memories of the way things were in 1985 when I first arrived in China, and in 1987 when I lived in Beijing. There were no private cars, no super highways, no international department stores or western fast-food restaurants. Life was pretty slow and simple, though in my memory, China's cities and the city buses were as crowded as they are now. Such memories make today's China all the more remarkable. In 25 years, they have built almost as many highways as there are in the US; huge dams span many rivers, creating electric power for the modern conveniences that fill stores and homes. Private cars are everywhere--clogging the streets and clouding the air, but also bringing convenience to their owners. Tall buildings with remarkable architecture have sprung from the ground like flowers in the spring, replacing the low skylines I remember with modern cities. Airports have also sprung up everywhere--many of them as beautiful as they are busy.
     A few days ago, New China turned 60 years old. The spectacular parades and festivities in Beijing showed that the people of China have a lot to be proud of, and we are grateful for the chance to contribute in our own little way. We also add our voices to those around the world who wish China continued progress, especially in the areas that still lag behind. May her hopes for harmony, so constantly a part of the celebration, come true; and may the years ahead bring even greater peace: personally, nationally and worldwide.

Happy Birthday China!
The Kriglines
         (back to top)  



November         (back to top)  



December 3, 2009

      This year, our "monthly" update has turned into an "every other month" update; I keep thinking that our schedules are about to become less hectic, but it just never happens. My current routine for Monday-Tuesday in Cheng Gong is like a tightly-packed timetable. Between Monday at 5:30 (when I rise) and Tuesday at 7 (when I get home for dinner), I spend about four hours getting to/from campus, 14 hours teaching or talking to students, and 4.5 hours marking papers; add meals, sleep, and walking from place to place on our huge campus, and it leaves very little free time. Many students think I'm "on vacation" for the rest of the week, unaware of the time it takes to mark homework essays, create the next lesson/Power Point and refine materials to make them better for the future. Add email and other important communication, various projects I'm always working on, family time, Sunday activities, and unplanned emergencies (like when our walls started leaking last month, initiating two weeks of repairs), and the time just seems to disappear.

       I'm not really complaining. Who likes to be bored? Overall, my life is very satisfying. I'm part of a happy family, I enjoy my work, I feel that I'm seeing progress in my students' English, and indirectly I'm making a contribution to the development of China and her people.

       Christmas is now upon us, and that adds another important dimension to life. I love the colors, sights, sounds and tastes of the season, and my family loves sharing these with others. Last weekend, several students came over to help us decorate for Christmas and eat pancakes. They enjoyed this unusual syrupy treat, added lights and ornaments happily to the Christmas tree, and sat with rapt attention while a DVD introduced them to the historical Christmas Story--which I sensed that most had never heard before. Like last year, we'll have local friends or students over every weekend to play games, make greeting cards or watch a movie like "A Christmas Carol" (maybe I'll create a new study guide soon for that favorite classic film). On the 12th, I've been asked to sing some of my songs at a Christmas concert in Kunming, and we are also looking forward to teaching foreign kids about Christmas every Sunday morning this month.

       Amidst all this busy-ness, it is sometimes hard to remember that Christmas is just an ordinary day for most of China's 1.4 billion people. Like Scrooge, some have no use for the holiday, but most just know too little about it to really enter in to the joyous spirit. Of course, China also has a growing Christian population who celebrate Jesus' birth (that's really the heart of Christmas) with unparalleled joy. They call Christmas Eve "ping an ye" ("peaceful/silent night"), and have created a tradition of giving out apples that day ("apple" sounds like "peace" in Chinese). The churches will be packed on Christmas eve with both the faithful and the curious (the last time we went, the doors had to be locked because even the aisles were full). As we walk and shop in December, we are no longer surprised to hear Christmas songs (in English and Chinese), though it is still a refreshing surprise to see a manger scene or other traditional decorations (because "the American Santa" is the decoration that most Chinese people associate with the holiday). We'll keep doing our part to present a more complete picture of Christmas. Just as we enjoy learning about and celebrating Chinese National Day, "Moon-cake Day," and Spring Festival, we know that many of our local friends enjoy learning about the world's most popular annual celebration--officially recognized in over 100 countries.

       To help people understand Christmas, I've posted several resources on this website. Click these underlined words to find pages about the traditional Christmas story, who is Santa (圣诞老人)?, and the pre-Christmas Advent season. You'll also find movie study guides for several great holiday films: A Snoopy/Charlie Brown Christmas, Last Holiday, White Christmas, and It's a Wonderful Life.


Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas,

Michael Krigline for the family

By the way, Vivian has posted several new photo pages to her scrapbook website. They are more elaborate than the simple photo pages on krigline.com, so they load slowly in China, but you might enjoy seeing her nice pictures. Click here to start your journey: www.scrapbookflair.com/China_Doll      

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