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March 1, 2015 / danednie

Am I in the Grind

Alarm goes off. Wake up, get to work. Get off work, get fed. Watch a tv show, go to bed.

This is the grind. Full time work has the potential to control people from the start to the end of the day, with the exception of a couple of hours at night. If you are thinking mainly about which tv show you will watch in those precious couple of hours at night then you are in grind. You might love your job, you might hate it – but you are in the grind.

February 1, 2015 / danednie

How to Reduce Belly Fat

While it seems like an unlikely title for one of my blog posts, I think this knowledge is something that I’ve personally benefitted from, and I’ve told a number of friends individually and gotten good feedback.

Most people quite reasonably believe the reason they have belly fat is because they haven’t done enough crunches or situps. The theory is that fat only resides where the muscles haven’t been working enough. This is wrong.

We develop fat reserves to reduce the chance of dying of starvation in a famine. The way to reduce this reserve, is for your body to naturally burn more of it for energy. If you run or do cardio you will feel more hungry and generally lose the gains even if you work out for longer than 45 mins. But if you develop more muscle mass, then your basic metabolism rate will need to increase so that your body can maintain those muscles.

When people begin working, their muscles across their whole body reduce in size due to lack of use. As there are fewer muscles, the body adopts a lower metabolism rate because there is less muscle to maintain. While as an active teenager the amount of food we took on was appropriate, as we get older we eat the same amount, but have less muscle to support – thus the fat.

Build muscle all over the body>> metabolism rises>> fat disappears naturally as a result of higher metabolism


January 1, 2015 / danednie

There’s more to Chinese culture than modern China

One of my goals in 2015 has been to develop a greater sense of connection with Chinese culture. Travelling to Taiwan in August of last year showed me that Chinese culture is not synonymous to Mainland Chinese culture. While this is something I’d known intellectually, I think I had still equated a lot of aspects of Mainland Chinese life to “Chinese culture” where this connection is not especially close.

I’ve been reading the Confucian Analects in both Chinese and English and feeling as though there are great differences in personal values between Confucian thought and Mainland Chinese people. Values of Confucian China are roughly:

  • Devotion to your parents
  • Devotion to the Emperor
  • Learning for learning’s sake
  • Governments should lead by example
  • Compassion and Generosity to others
  • Virtue is more important than material wealth

I would say of these values, the first two have carried over into the Modern era relatively unscathed, but as you go down the list, I feel the distance widens greatly. An example of lack of compassion and generosity to others in Modern China is the way that people riding bikes generally don’t stop for red lights. Two days ago I saw two cars turning right, they weren’t going particularly fast, but an old man on a big bike rode in front of them very fast and through a red light. The first car braked quickly to avoid hitting the bike, but was herself hit by the man behind. The two of them both argued with extreme anger, but really it was neither of their faults. The man on the bike probably didn’t really see this as his fault, and would have forgotten about it within minutes.

This kind of ‘fend for yourself’ approach to traffic has little to do with the number of vehicles on the road or the population, nor is it a Chinese phenomenon. It is the result of people in Modern China being trained to not care about others, but just try to get to where they are going faster at the expense of all (and anyone) else.


November 5, 2014 / danednie

Dislocation in China

I’d like to say that I’ve been working on the “not urgent” but “important” parts of my life, but I have certainly indulged in these past six months in my fair share of “urgent” but “not important” activities in life.

Working towards a masters thesis, attending classes full time and working on other research projects for the University of Melbourne has helped me develop my skills and sensitivities as an educational researcher. It has been a world away from the glamour of participating in TV shows.

Why did I stop going for more and more TV shows and developing that area of my life? I realised that I felt very dislocated in China, and I won’t want to stay here forever.

I would like to work here on short term contracts, even for up to a year in the future, but while I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to return to Australia, I also feel as though China has made me a less calm, less trusting and less spiritual person. I want to be in an environment where I not only thrive, but grow personally. I feel like I’ve become resilient and careful, but I wouldn’t choose to extend my time here any longer than what is practical.

Dislocation in China

Dislocation in China

May 20, 2014 / danednie

Documentaries for the Chinese Channel in Canada

I was surprised when I got a request to do a documentary series for Canadian Telivision about Jiangsu culture. Originally I assumed that it must be in English, so they would probably want their own hosts to do it, at least a Canadian living in Nanjing… Or maybe they just really love Australians over there. No, none of that, it turns out there is an entirely Chinese language channel, and the documentary series is in Chinese for Chinese speakers living in Canada! While the series hasn’t broadcast, here is the first one. Not as well edited as the previous one’s in my opinion, but certainly a step up in terms of the amount of Chinese I had to memorise and deliver.



May 6, 2014 / danednie

Doing the weather report for Jiangsu City Channel

The May 1 holiday is a time of rest for most Chinese, but for me it represented an opportunity to fill in for the regular weather host on Jiangsu City Channel’s Ling Ju Li 江苏城市频道的《零距离》节目。At first glance, looking at the roughly 500 character script I thought, “Oh my god this is not going to work at all” but then they showed me the auto-cue monitor. This was the first time I tried using one before, because most of my shows have been outside with only short speeches at any one time. The task got easier again though when requested that we write the entire script out in English pinyin with the appropriate tones! For me reading the romanised version of the Chinese words is much easier and meant that I could get out most of the script with only minimal preparation. You can see the cut away scene when I messed up, but I got the first part out without too much trouble the first time. I’m sincerely hoping they’ll invite me back to do this once a week, as it’s widely watched and well paid, but we’ll just have to see.



March 15, 2014 / danednie

Review of Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia

Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia is a research report produced by the Grattan Institute which analyses the differences between Australian 2009 PISA scores and those of the East Asian educational regions Shanghai, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.

Probably the most insightful recommendation of the paper concerns the number of teaching hours vs professional development hours that teachers in Shanghai and Australia have. Teachers in Shanghai teach 10-12 hours of classes a week, but use their other hours at school to:

– classroom observation
– team teaching
– school-based research
– giving feedback
– identifying learning needs
– modeling good practice
– active collaboration

In contrast Australian teachers spend an average of 20 hours per week teaching classes, with most of the other time spent doing class plans and corrections as well as other unavoidable school duties. There are 40 students in the average Shanghai classroom, in contrast Australia classrooms have an average of 23. This higher number of students per class is the major reason why teachers have more time in Shanghai. Unfortunately, I highly doubt many Australian students or parents (or teachers for that matter) would be able to accept such a high number. While students in Confucian societies are very respectful of their teachers, the same can’t be said about Australian students. I personally believe that employing more teachers so that existing teachers have more time to engage in their own ongoing learning and development improve the quality of teaching and thus improving learning outcomes for students.


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