Note: various links or
other references may be mentioned below that no longer apply.
Sorry for the
January/February Update (Jan 14, 2008)
January is half over, and I find myself surrounded by piles of "things to
do later." Sure, I'm technically finished with the fall semester (I turned
in my grades today), but that doesn't mean I have time to rest. When I'm
teaching, I tend to work at an exhausting pace (creating resources,
organizing my lectures/classes, spending time with students, etc.), and
piles form around my desk of things to do when I find time. I always hope
that I can get lots done during the break between terms, but I'm always
We were extra busy in December, and loved every minute of the Christmas
celebrations we shared with students and friends. Maybe someday I'll get
time to post some photos, but not now. By the time Christmas got here, I
was creating a final exam and conducting oral exams with my medical
students. I also gave a final writing assignment; I knew it would be a lot
of extra work to grade these papers, but I wanted to give them one more
chance to write so that they could see their mistakes through the eyes of
a native speaker. I must admit that I was shocked when many turned in
things they had not written themselves; 17 out of 63 essays contained
plagiarism (things copied from another writer, without documentation).
Additional papers bore unusual similarities, but I could only find 17 on
the Internet--and that was discouraging enough! Frankly, I'm convinced
that many local students just don't understand the western perspective:
student writing must be 100% written by the student, or documented. My
publisher disagrees, for an editor wrote: "We donít think there is much
difference between western and Chinese thinking on the problem of
plagiarism." But I just can't believe that such a large percentage of
graduate students knowingly do what my classmates and I in the US would
have considered unthinkably wrong.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who is facing this problem. China
Daily currently has at least two articles on-line about the subject
(click here for "Fudan"
Chapter two in my forthcoming advanced writing textbook deals with this
subject, and my recent experience is making me think I need to add a few
things to the chapter before it is published. Whether we like it or not,
what we do as individuals (especially educated individuals) can cast an
unwanted shadow on everyone around us. Perhaps in some small way, my
chapter can help the many Chinese students who write in English to better
understand what readers (and especially teachers) expect, which in turn
can help improve their reputation as international scholars.
Speaking of my book, my biggest task for the "break" is to proofread the
final copy (the editors sent pdf files for me to print and then proof).
With over 470 pages, that will take a lot of time. Vivian and I are also
going to attend a conference in Thailand in mid-February (Andrew has to
stay here to go to school). So, it doesn't look like I'll get time to do
much work on this website, but if I do, I'll try to add a note and link
Wishing everyone a happy Chinese new year,
Michael Krigline for the family
(back to top)
Update (Feb 24, 2008)
I'm glad that February has an extra day this year--I can always use extra
time! As I predicted in January, I didn't get as much done during the
Chinese New Year break as I had hoped, but I did work a lot. First I
cleaned my office (you couldn't even see the floor) and took care of the
most urgent things that I'd been putting off. Then I spent over three
weeks carefully proofreading a semi-final copy of my forthcoming textbook.
You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to proofread something like this
unless you've done it (and then you probably won't want to do it again!).
But I hope that all the mistakes and formatting errors I found will be
taken out before it goes to press (tentatively in early March, if not
before). I'll keep you posted. Then, Vivian and I went to Thailand for a
conference (I'm actually writing this from northern Thailand, but we fly
back to Kunming tomorrow). University classes begin the next day, but I
haven't heard exactly what I'm teaching. I guess I'll find out when I get
home. I've added a few photos of Thailand and of our Christmas, but
haven't had time to add captions. I expect that the next few weeks will
also be busy, as I get into the new semester.
That's all I have time for now!
Michael Krigline for the family
(back to top)
(April 3, 2008)
My book has finally been published, and that was worth celebrating! (You
can see photos/details of the party by clicking here.) If you look
back at the update archive, you'll see that I've been distracted by this
project for many years, and at times I thought I'd never hold a copy of
Successful Writing for the Real World
my hands, but that day came yesterday when 20 of our colleagues, students
and friends joined us to see what came out of the box from the publisher.
(You can see the timeline by clicking here.)
The party was very short (I had to run back to campus for English Talk
Time), but we all had a good time. Many thanks to those who came,
especially from the university staff.
People ask what I'm going to do with my spare
time now. My answer is "all the things I've put off for the past four
years," including attending to all the out-of-date pages on this website.
But don't expect miracles--as a busy college instructor, I rarely have
much "spare time"!
Yesterday was also our son's birthday, but
unfortunately we didn't get to celebrate with him. He and his classmates
traveled to southern Yunnan for a community service project at an
orphanage. (Cameras weren't allowed, so I can't show you any photos.)
However, we are planning a "Pirates of the Caribbean" birthday party for
our new 15-year-old next weekend (the guys plan to watch all three movies,
play Risk and enjoy goodies in an overnight celebration).
Vivian has been as busy as always, typing,
emailing, training the new Jian Hua Services staff person, taking care of
our home, planning parties, and traveling to Hong Kong, Lijiang and other
places. But she enjoys all the activity and her organizational skills are
envied by all.
That's all the news for the moment (because I
have a pile of papers to grade). So, go out and buy my book and get your
friends to do the same! You can order the book from your favorite
bookstore (in China) using this reference information: ISBN
978-7-5600-7264-7; publisher: 外语教学与研究出版社; Chinese title: 高级实用英语写作. List
price: 43.90 RMB.
For the family,
Michael Krigline, published author
(back to top)
Update (May 5, 2008)
As May reaches for its second week, I feel like I haven't had a moment
of rest for a long time. The first week of April was filled with things
related to my new textbook (you can see photos/details of the party by
clicking here). Then I gave my graduate students an essay assignment,
which took forever to mark (I know I'm crazy, but I spent about an hour
each working on those drafts, which they will rewrite next week). Then I
gave them a midterm exam, which took two weeks to mark (due to other
distractions). [Photo: Gimli still
hates to be alone, so she jumps onto a lap whenever she can. But it's
hard to mark tests with a dog sleeping on your arm, so she had to find
another lap once this photo was taken!]
It is difficult to plan ahead when you work in China. For example, even
though I knew I'd give an exam in the ninth week, I pushed these essays
to the eighth week for the sake of my students. Writing is hard work,
and these are all busy medical students, so I felt that it was important
to put a little space between their first paper and this second one. The
exam was originally scheduled as their "final exam," but many of these
students are so keen to study English that they asked the university to
let the class continue. Their request was not officially granted until
the morning of the exam, but we are glad that we have a few more weeks
together. Meanwhile, that exam day was also the day before my three new
classes (for undergraduates) started. The undergrad classes don't have a
textbook, so I'm once-again creating or adapting materials to use for
them. I love doing this, but it does take a lot of time!
Another thing I love is to watch movies with students and friends. This
month (Wednesday, in fact) we will get into the Olympic spirit by
watching one of my favorite films: Chariots of Fire. I've posted a new
study guide to help English-learners enjoy and understand the movie
As if we weren't busy enough, it is time to get my son's passport
renewed, so we all have to fly to Chengdu later this month to appear at
the US Consulate. We've got too much to do to make this a holiday, so we
will just stay overnight and fly back, but that will be enough to eat up
our "spare time" for another weekend. So, it doesn't look like I'll be
doing much to update or fix the pages on this website for a while. But
thanks for taking the time to check this update--and don't forget to
look at the "what is new" section below.
For the busy family,
(back to top)
Update (June 13, 2008)
As usual, I've got a long list of things to do, but I thought I'd at least
better add a short update before the month slips away. Last month's
earthquake (in neighboring Sichuan Province) took center-place in
everyone's life for a few weeks. When it hit, we already had tickets to
fly to Chengdu (Sichuan's capital) a few days later; this was the Hand of
Providence, for it allowed us to take a substantial monetary gift and two
suitcases of medical supplies to friends who were involved in the relief
efforts. The purpose of this trip was to get Andrew's passport renewed at
the US Consulate so we stayed only one night, but we felt several
aftershocks and saw a lot of "shaken" people. I wish I had time to write
more about that trip, but I don't; someday I hope to create a Chengdu
page, but that won't likely happen any time soon.
Back here in Kunming, I started negotiations to renew my contract at the
medical school on May 16, but it took until June 10 to reach an agreement
(which was basically their original offer without my suggested
improvements). I looked into some other schools in the area, and they did
offer a higher salary and/or better benefits, but in the end the
difference was not big enough to justify leaving the students and
colleagues I've enjoyed working with for the past year. So, I'll be at
Kunming Medical School for at least another year.
That's all the time I have at the moment. I'm meeting students and friends
tomorrow at a local theater to see Prince Caspian, so I want to get a
study guide ready. Look at the "what is new" section below for recent
changes or additions, and come back in a few weeks to see if I've had any
more time to be a webmaster as well as an English teacher!
For the family,
(back to top)
July/August Update (July 13, 2007)
leave for the US, and there's a lot left to do, but here's a quick note to
get us through the summer. The purpose of this trip is to celebrate
Michael's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. The whole family is gathering
for a cruise in Alaska (I'm sure there will be a new page about this
beautiful place once we get back). From there, Andrew and I will go to
Ohio to spend two more weeks with my parents and sister (Vivian will be
back in Kunming with Gimli). Then, in mid-August, we all meet in Beijing
to enjoy some of the Olympics! We are looking forward to a wonderful time,
and hopefully I won't be too busy in late August to tell you all about it.
So, have a good summer and come see us in the fall!
It has been a very busy summer, so I haven't had time to work on our
website. Look for new pages in the coming months (when I have time),
because we took hundreds of great photos in Alaska, Ohio, and Beijing. For
now, I'll just say that my parents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration
was wonderful, and we enjoyed four hot days in Beijing cheering for
Chinese gold-medal winners. What a memorable summer!
Yesterday I met 99 of my new students in the morning (I hear that I'll
meet another 20 tomorrow). They look like an attentive, smart group of
medical students, so I'm looking forward to teaching them. While grading
the evaluation test I gave them, my desk started to rock! The earthquake
was about 300 km (160 miles) from Kunming, so I haven't heard any reports
of local damage, but the ground beneath us has certainly been unstable
lately! I'm glad our sense of peace and security is not tied to things
that can shake and fall, but to the One who created all of this.
I'll try to write more soon, but that's all the time I have now!
(back to top)
Family reunion on our Alaska cruise
(September 11, 2008)
As I type today's date, I can't help but think of that awful day
in 2001 when 3000 people died at the hands of a few evil men. I put the
following note on the screen during break-time today: "This day changed
all of our lives. Their madness affects us every time we prepare to fly
or travel." I thought about this several times this summer: every time I
packed my suitcases ("no, this gel and water can't go in my carryon
bag..."), or went through security at an airport, boat dock, or Olympic
venue. When Andrew was a toddler, we used to walk all over the nearby
Columbia airport to watch the planes and people. Today, you can't even
enter the Kunming airport without an airplane ticket. At the Olympics
this year, security was so tight that we were quickly ushered out of
venues once competitions were over, and we couldn't walk anywhere near
the Bird's Nest or other "famous" venues. This isn't a complaint--we
felt very safe. It is just an illustration of the price we have all paid
in the wake of 9-11.
But today, in China, we are on the eve of another auspicious day
in history: the Mid-Autumn Festival. The holiday had been celebrated for
centuries when someone got the idea of spreading rebellious messages
inside "mooncakes" to help overthrow the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1200 A.D.-
1368 A.D). Apparently, the Mongols didn't like the cakes any more than I
do, so the Chinese could spread their messages without interception.
What is a "mooncake"? Like western "fruitcakes," they are made
and stored months in advance. In short, a mooncake is a pastry shell
with one of several fillings, including egg, meat (these are popular in
Yunnan), tea, or dried fruit (this latter type being the only one I can
handle). Every year, friends, students and university officials are
obliged to give us sometimes-expensive mooncakes, which we in turn pass
on to thankful Chinese friends (I hope they are thankful!). You can read
more about the festival and its traditional treat on many websites,
including these: (one, two).
I will leave my "August 31" note below. Sorry, but I still
haven't had time to transform any of my photos into web pages. I'm
enjoying my new students, and they seem to like me, too (which is always
nice). It's also fun to see former students on campus. The earthquake I
mentioned below was followed by another the next day. Neither one did
much damage here, but many homes and lives were destroyed near their
epicenters. That--like today's date--should remind all of us that no one
knows how suddenly one's life will end (due to either a natural or
man-made disaster). So, take a moment today to tell special people you
love them, and to celebrate the precious gift of life that today brings!
For the family,
(back to top)
update (October 13, 2008)
Well, I thought I could find time during the early
October "National Day" holiday to write a new update, and fix all kinds
of stuff on this website, but it didn't happen. There are always more
things to do than there are moments to do them in.
This past weekend, Vivian and I were in Lijiang for Board
of Trustees meetings related to the orphanages we are a part of. Vivian
has the important role of secretary for the Board, keeping everyone
informed of needs and changes, as well as taking the minutes at our
meetings. It is always uplifting to meet with the dedicated staff, who
oversee more than 100 children of all ages and from a diverse
background. Some kids are struggling with their studies (like all
children), while others are doing great; more importantly, the staff is
helping them to pursue individualized interests while building in them
the character traits that will prepare them for a productive life. We
are proud to be a part of this important work.
Andrew is 15, now in his second year of high school. That
means a lot more homework, as well as extracurricular activities, so we
don't have as much time together. He was elected as a class
representative in the Student Government Association, and he continues
to serve on the yearbook/journalism staff. Andrew does well in
everything he puts his hand to, and we are very proud of him.
I remain busy with my 122 post-graduate students at
Kunming Medical University. Like last year, I am enjoying my role in
helping to improve their English level. Several have said that my class
is "different" from their former English classes, because everything
builds to chances to express themselves in English (instead of just
passing tests or learning about the language). Their confidence levels
are already starting to grow, for which I'm grateful.
They also face their first quiz next week, and sitting
next to me are hundreds of papers to grade--the result of my lessons
last week on basic writing. That should explain why I never find time to
add photos or make other changes to this website! (See the "what is new"
section below for recent changes.)
Finally, with world financial markets being shaken, I
will close with this advice from some of the greatest minds in history:
He who will not economize will have to agonize.
--Confucius (孔子 or 孔夫子; 551-478 B.C.)
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another
has fulfilled the law.
--St Paul (保罗), from Romans 13:8 of the Bible (around A.D. 56)
Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and
friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry [i.e., the sensible
management of resources].
--Shakespeare (莎士比亚; A.D. 1603), from Hamlet
All those Americans in debt (and the growing number of Chinese people
who want to follow America's dangerous "credit" lifestyle) would do well
to pay attention to this timeless wisdom.
I'll keep looking for spare time to add things and make
changes in the weeks ahead, so check this page whenever you visit.
Thanks for stopping by!
Michael for the family
(back to top)
PS (Oct 25): My parents have just become
great-grandparents! Congratulations and blessings to my brother's
daughter, Carolyn, who had her first baby a few hours ago. These two
photos (and more) can be seen at http://aaronandcarolyn.blogspot.com/
update (November 3, 2008)
November is the month
of "Thanksgiving" (感恩节) in America, and as American expatriates in China
we certainly have a lot to be thankful for. Foremost, we are grateful for
the growing relationships we have with students, colleagues and friends in
Kunming. We are also thankful for the recognition given us recently, when
the Yunnan government awarded Michael the Yunnan Friendship Award (彩云奖--click
here for details). Another blessing is our
continued good health, in spite of long hours and packed schedules. We
give thanks for Andrew's good grades and active school life, for Vivian's
rewarding work both at home and with Jian Hua Yunnan, for the foreign
children that Michael and Andrew continue to teach on Sunday mornings, and
even for Gimli's presence in our lives. We are thankful for many blessings
in 2008; this provincial award adds to a remarkable year, which included
the release of Michael's
a wonderful family-reunion cruise in
and three days at the
With a year this great behind us, we can't wait to see the
good things coming in 2009!
Whether or not the
people in your country celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we hope that you
will take the time to look back at this past year, and be thankful!
The Krigline family
(back to top)
Update (Dec 12, 2008)
Our Christmas celebrations are already well underway. We love this
time of year, and make many opportunities to share the holiday with
students and friends. When I get time, I'll add current photos to the
If you frequently look at the news, you might be tempted to feel
despair this Christmas. People are losing jobs, others are taking home
less pay, earthquake victims are still living in tents, and my students
are complaining that the job-hunting outlook is bleak.
As I was thinking about this, I found an old
poem I wrote as an unemployed, recent college
grad. Back in 1984, it helped me put things in
perspective as few things
like Christmas can! A few moments ago, a Christmas song came up on my
computer's playlist, and it was encouraging to hear the chorus: "Hope is
born again!" Christmas is not about temporary hope. It is not a
hope based on the changing tides of politics or the economy. The hope of
Christmas is based on unchanging historical facts and an equally
unchanging promise from One who never changes! For two thousand years,
this annual holiday has reminded us that Heaven cares deeply about our
lives, both now and for eternity!
So don't look at life through the bad news in the headlines. As my
poem says, hope comes by looking from a
Merry Christmas from the Kriglines!
(back to top)