If I’m going to continue this blog at all, perhaps I should focus on my attempt to learn Mandarin. Learning this language requires more dedication and concentration than my current living arrangements allow. In the last session we learnt numbers. Why is it that 386 in Mandarin sounds a lot nicer than 241? At least with numbers you can practise quite easily, because they appear everywhere. As I’ve found in other languages, the best way to practice saying numbers (and letters, in languages that are sensible enough have an alphabet) is to read off car number plates as they whizz by. I like that Chinese numbers also come with hand gestures. You can count up to ten on just one hand, so from six to ten, the signals aren't what you'd expect. The other topic we dealt with in last week’s lesson was family members. The Chinese seem to have more family-member words than we do, with separate words for all the different kinds of auntie you can have (mother’s younger sister, father’s older brother’s wife, and so forth). You're not supposed to call your elder brother or sister by his or her name; you need to use the word for "big brother" or "big sister", so my brother who's close enough to my age to almost seem like a twin, would need to show me respect by calling me "gē ge". And if he was my twin brother, born ten minutes after me, he'd still have to show me the same respect. Our teacher showed us her family tree which was strictly men-only.
Mum and Dad got back yesterday from their 2½ months away. I was tracking their Singapore Airlines flight on flightradar24.com. It's a fascinating site (and would be interesting enough if it was just a world map without all the swarming planes). As my cousin's husband said on Sunday, what that site really shows you is where in world the money is. Tom is embarking on his big adventure and will be in Sydney now, about to fly to Tokyo on a 747 (not so many of those iconic planes now - sad in a way as they changed the world). Tracy flies to Europe on Thursday - she's away for five weeks. As for me, I'm stuck here for the foreseeable future.
National are still favourites to win next month's election, but their price on iPredict (yay, I'm still on their leaderboard even though I haven't traded for years) has dropped from the low eighties to the low seventies in the last few days. I've now decided that they won't be getting my vote this time. On Sunday we had lunch and board games at the autism place, and someone in a Bananagrams game joined KEY onto DORK. Well a dork he ain't, but he could have handled the events of the last few days much better. The blogger Cameron Slater is a nasty piece of work and if I were the Prime Minister I'd be distancing myself as far as possible from Slater, not calling him Cam as if he were my mate. Then there's Judith Collins, Minister of Justice of all things, who appears to think she's above the law herself, and also seems to lack any shred of compassion. So I won't vote National but are Labour, policy-wise, really any better?
The wind needle, officially called the Zephyrometer, was struck by lightning in a storm last week, and they haven't decided whether it'll be replaced.