It’s the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival, which means — if Chinese lore is to be believed — that the souls of the dead are out roaming the earth. And if you don’t pay attention to them, they’ll cause all sorts of trouble. So you’re supposed to light candles and leave them offerings, like snacks:
You’re also supposed to burn joss paper, or spirit money, to appease the dead:
And you’re supposed to do all of these in big incinerators that have been specially provided for this purpose (you can see part of one on the left in the photo above). But as you can tell, not everyone bothers with the incinerators — these little offerings are often made just along the edges of sidewalks — so the result is an awful lot of litter. Singapore has been trying to control this problem…
… but I would say that they still have a ways to go.
Speaking of hungry (but not at all related to ghosts), I am happy to report that our school cafeteria is pretty amazing. Not because it has Baja Fresh and Subway franchises (though it does, and my Park advisees were thrilled by that), but because it serves a vast array of good food at reasonable prices. And it’s one of the few places I’ve seen that provides a wide variety of cooked veggies. Today’s offerings included plain cauliflower, roasted squash, and green beans; they also had (all cooked Chinese-style) Japanese eggplant, bok choy, some kind of mysterious green, cabbage, and bean sprouts with tofu. So Prescott and I may be done with the project of bringing our own lunches to work. Besides, going to the cafeteria at SAS is one of the few things that actually gets me out of my office, which is a major occasion on most days.
The pace at school is pretty hectic (hence my staying in my office all day), but doable. I would summarize the content of my school days so far as follows:
- Days 1-10: Meeting with and developing schedules for new students
- Days 11-12: Making endless schedule changes for seniors
- Day 13: Having Welcome Back Day, a combination of a field day and a get-to-know-you day with my new freshmen advisees
- Days 14-16: Making endless schedule changes for sophomores and juniors (and a few indecisive seniors)
- Day 17: Meeting with small groups of seniors to give them a nuts-and-bolts interview of the college application process
Day 17 will be repeated with more seniors tomorrow, and then I will spend four of my days next week meeting with small groups of sophomores and then juniors to give them an overview of what’s to come this year. Then, and only then, will I start having one-on-one meetings with seniors to get to know them and start writing their college recommendation letters. I’m really looking forward to that part, though it feels far too late in coming.