?

Log in

No account? Create an account

September 16th, 2006

days of our lives: the lorenzo edition

In addition to my CHIN 101 class I have also registered for CHIN 105, which is a conversation class where groups of eight students meet once a week to practice their pronunciation and grammar. Students were drawn from both CHIN 101 sections and assigned to a class based on their availability. Imagine my surprise then in discovering that, with so many openings available, I was placed in the same class as Lorenzo.

One of the activities during our first (and, so far, only) day of class was to ask about the family name (姓) and full name (叫) of our fellow classmates. While exchanging names with Lorenzo our instructor, Professor Cao, came over and had me repeat my family name six or seven times to get the proper tone. Eventually he gave up and told me to keep practicing - which was really embarrassing to hear. After a few minutes more everyone was told to take their seats and Professor Cao asked if anyone had gotten names from five people. Lorenzo eagerly raised his hand and was then asked to share the names he'd recorded. When he got to mine he was stopped and Professor Cao had him repeat my family name a few times - in front of the entire class. After Lorenzo finished Professor Cao asked in a hopeful manner if anyone had managed to fill out all six lines on our worksheet, and it turned out that I was the only person who had managed such a feat. Hmm.

In other Chinese-related news, one of the girls in my CHIN 101 class is a slaveholder. Not really, but during one of our weekly class skits she forget a word that changed the meaning of her sentence from "My family has four members" to "I own four people". Ms. Luo took the time to explain the distinction to our class, presumably to avoid any international incidents that might develop if we went to China and started boasting about the number of slaves we each possessed.

the myth of sisyphus ... or castoridae

A beaver was admitted to the vet hospital last week after being shot in the face. The story I heard is that a local resident mistook it for a hare or other garden pest and opened fire before getting a proper identification. The beaver was brought in for treatment, diagnosed with severe brain damage and limited nerve responses, and put in the care of a few fourth-year students. Daily medication, exercise, and showers were prescribed by the hospital's exotic/wild animal specialist. One of the students, however, thought it would be a better idea to fill a tub for the beaver to get some practice swimming.

The student left for a few minutes to grab a few forms and found the beaver dead on her return. Given the delicate state of its nervous system there's a very strong chance that the beaver had been unable to hold its head above water and subsequently drowned. This particular student had other ideas. According to her, the beaver committed suicide instead. Personally, I'm more willing to believe the first explanation, but it does bring up an interesting question: are there animals with a sense of self so developed that they would attempt suicide? A fox will chew off its own foot to escape a trap, but that is a much different situation. I wonder if there are any studies on beached whales that discuss the possibility of suicide?