Saturday, September 6, 2014

Settling In

September 7, 2014

               Life has more or less settle down for the most part, the schedules are finally complete, and lucky me no changes for my homeroom or classes.  The fun for this week was trying to come up with interesting lab activities for the students, which is harder than it looks even though I teach science.  My first activity was a bust, when I discovered that the lab didn't have any of the solutions needed to detect carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.  However I had a bit of an epiphany, and had the students do the same thing with their own senses, tasting, sugar, corn meal, vegetable oil, maple syrup, salt, and ground up nuts, for their component nutrients.  They might have thought some of the substances were disgusting, but in the end it worked well enough.  My second activity though took a bit more doing, measuring the effects of temperature and pH on per-oxidase.  The first try was a bust since the hydrogen peroxide was a year out of date, and apparently you can’t by liver in Mongolia.  (Sorry John, no duck liver goodness for you)  So anyway I found a way to do it with potatoes instead, and the school got me some hydrogen peroxide.  The second try was a success, even with the following line from one of my students who tried to help by opening one of the new bottles of hydrogen peroxide.

               “Mr. M the hydrogen peroxide must be good my finger is burning” as she spills some on the desk.  Cue my head adding another dent to the wall.  Even with that the lab was a success and my students got to do something fun and interesting.

               The second interesting story from the classroom involved a homework assignment where my students had to research a new technology that fixes an environment problem or increases the planets carrying capacity.  Student number one begins to explain how in China companies are breaking down iron oxide to create oxygen to sell to highly polluted areas.  Well the first thing that popped into my head was this

and this

               I then proceeded to explain to my student that what he came up with wasn't exactly correct or really feasible.  Not to be deterred I was shown this.

               Cue @#$#%&&*$#@@$^&*()^&%^%$$, and well I guess you really do learning something new every day.

Chris 2, Mongolia 0.5

               Continuing with the theme, cross country practice added a few more eye opening discoveries this week.  Friday practice is the long day where we take the kids on a longer slower run.  As with most kids new to a running sport, they all take off with a sprint or fast jog even a couple of the newbies from the middle schooler.  I had the lead spot out of the coaches so I didn't have to worry as some of them fell behind, and fully expected most of them to fall back.  Two of the HS students pulled away slightly no surprise there, but one of the middle schoolers was matching their pace.  I was fully expecting her to fall back, but the student maintained the pace for the entire 4 mile run and then wanted to do more when I went back out for the stragglers.  I don’t know what they put in the water or food here but I want some.  (The basketball coach is having a field day with this though.  I don’t think those kids will ever be able to live it down)  On a side not I darn near twisted my ankle in some kind of pot hole, and I might have added to the students vocabulary a bit.

               In other news I think Ulaanbaatar got at least a third of its yearly rain today, with a pretty heavy downpour for a couple of hours.  I had the unfortunate task of slogging through it to finally get my bank card and do some shopping.  The bank was supposed to be open from 9:30 till 5:30, but curse my luck it was closed.  (I wonder if it had anything to do with the rain turning the formerly dusty streets into rivers of mud.  Oh and one of the intrepid Mongolian drivers decided to use the nicely paved side walk as a road.)  The supermarket by the bank, named Rosie’s by the teachers was less than desirable for the most part.  The selection wasn’t as good as Good Price, nor were the prices and I’ll have to shopping again tomorrow.  The store did have one thing going for it though

              They were overpriced but I got my cookies, Chips Ahoy to be exact.  I can do my grading and lesson planning in piece.

               Ok, I get it, Blah, blah blah, just get to the hiking pictures dang it.  That is what all of you are thinking about.

Bogdkhan Uul

               Bogdkhn Uul, is the first state park formed in Mongolia, back in 1783, and is a short walk from the school.  Our intrepid hike leader, one of my fellow new teachers led the hike, leaving at 6:30am from the school.  Now I thought we were going on a short hike and would be back by 11am at the latest, and boy was I wrong.

Yes that is actually frost on the ground

               We did see a camel as well but for some reason the picture didn’t save on my camera, along with several others from the front of the park.

The path up into the mountains

View of Ulaanbaatar

Stream along the path

            We saw a number of birds and critters along the path but my camera just didn't have the zoom to really get any good shots.  I did however find this random image.

Yes that is a shoe and no I have no idea why it was there.

Random rock slide

Another shot of the path and yes it is as steep as it looks

               The woman with her back facing the camera is one of my fellow teachers who loves taking pictures of birds.

Clearing at the top of the path

                Now these were me testing out the macro function on my camera and I thought they came out pretty good.
Oh and this sign would have been more useful at the beginning at the hike.

I can’t read it, but I get the idea.

               I don’t know the distance we hiked but, we went up about 800 meters or so in altitude and I could definitely feel it by the top.  As for the time, I didn't get back until almost 2pm, and passed out for 2 hours after that.  The only other thing I got done that day was laundry and my first attempt at ironing.  It wasn't perfect, but I didn't burn anything so I count that as a win.

John is not going to like this.

               Yes I took pictures of my dinner last night, at a French place in the city.  The filet was tough and a little gamey.  The mushrooms were great, and the potatoes weren't good, but they weren't bad either.  The best part was the chocolate cake for desert and the conversation.

Have a good week everyone.

                PS- Aunt Pat, Bortsog the Mongolian desert- and I haven’t had it yet so send brownies anyway.