Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A recommendation and how to get a more visitors

I was looking at some of the comments left by readers and found a comment from Katie. Katie has a TEFL site called TEFLLougue. She left a nice comment and mentioned my blog on her blog. So I want to return the gesture. She has done an excellent job on the layout of the site and the contents are also very good. You may want to check it out, just click the link or the logo above to check it out.

Getting people to read your blog can be a bit difficult but the best way is just to have a decent page rank with Google. The best way to do that is to have good content and get links from other sites that have something to do with your sites subject matter. Content is King, that is what the marketers tell you. Here is an easy way to improve your page rank which will in turn bring more visitors from the search engines. One of the easiest ways to get indexed is to add your own blog to your my yahoo page with a rss feed. This is pretty much a surefire way to get indexed at Yahoo, and it only takes a few minutes. Another strategy is to get links to your site from related sites. The higher the page rank the better. This is not too hard to do if you have a good blog with good content. My blog currently has a page rank of 4 out of 10. Not great but not too bad considering I often have gaps in publishing. Publishing regularly once you do get indexed is also a key element in attaining a higher page rank. It just means you will be listed higher in the searches. Blogger is owned by Google so you may want to host your blog there as it makes sense that they will index all sites they have on their properties. The spiders will return. You should also blog and ping at places like Pingomatic.

Pinging lets several of the directories for blogs and indexes know that you have updated your blog and could get your site spidered, searched, by the big three, Google, Yahoo, and MSN. If you can get one way links to your site they are the best, but reciprocal links are also valuable. Posting in forums and having your site in your signature file is another way to build your page rank. Writing articles and listing them with article directories is another way to build page rank and get your name out there. You can leave a link in the resource box and these may be picked up and used by other sites. I really have not spent that much time doing these things and I saw my page rank rise using these easy techniques so you can too.

So thanks Katie for stopping by and I'll be checking out your blog too.

Worldltour aka Larry Rhoe

More snow and window leaks

As promised the posting to the blog will be more frequent. It is the end of January and we got the heaviest snow of the season. It really doesn't snow much here in Harbin it's a rather dry winter here, but it is always quite cold. This winter has been quite warm by Harbin standards. I have live in three different places at this latitude, Minneapolis, Seattle and Harbin. They say that Harbin is the coldest place on earth at this latitude. That seems right, but this year it has not been as cold. I really have not been out in the weather that much this winter as I have been building my business. It has been quite a bit warmer though. It fits right in with the lessons on global warming, sad to say.

This is the interior of my courtyard. In the background you can see the piles of coal and a parent who is letting her child climb up to the top of the pile. I guess that is an activity. For a while, the city will look a little nicer as the snow will cover the blackened streets and ice. The winter can cause lots of this dust to be dragged into your home, into the window cracks. Even though most newer homes and remodeled buildings have double glass the workmanship is pretty poor. Gaps, no caulk, bad fittings cause major waste of energy. For those of you who are my age, or don't remember, it's like the days when made in Japan meant, crap. I hate to say it but even in this apartment which is designated as a "model" apartment, the workmanship is quite appalling.

Here are some examples. My kitchen and bath have nice tile, but it is applied over about an inch of concrete to even out the walls. They don't use a trawl with teeth so it does not adhere as it should because it is not done properly. The result? I had ten tiles fall off at the same time when the room was unoccupied. It is not hung either, it is done backwards, meaning they start at the bottom and not the top. Rooms are not square, so floor tiles angle off to complete the floor tiles. So the symmetry of the room is all askew. There goes the whole concept of tiles and aesthetics. The concept of using spacers and grout is also not used here. Everything is just butted up to the next one. When it was done some tiles with chipped corners or damaged tiles were installed too. Just a whole bunch of things that scream, lack of pride in workmanship. A stark contrast to the artistic carvings and many other things which are wonderful examples of skill and pride. Well the work is done by transient workers who are paid a pittance.

It probably bothers me more than most as this is one area of my personality that likes order. I discovered this though my experiences in the construction trade and remodeling and working on my own places in the States. By doing things right you actually save yourself lots of headaches in the future.

Well two more weeks with my nose to the grindstone and then some time off. Most teachers are already off enjoying travel if they are at a university, those of us in the private sector get much shorter breaks as parents have their children's time blocked out with extra classes. It's a bit sad when you realize most of the classes are just lessons in rote learning and will soon be forgotten with little attention paid to the higher aspects of learning, such as deduction, extrapolation, and logic. Is there anyone else who feels the pangs of logic ignored here in China? It's one of those things that I have not yet been able to get used too, very frustrating.

Worldtour aka Larry Rhoe

Monday, January 29, 2007

Taiwan Earthquake shuts down my blog

I'm sorry that there have been no posts recently. The fiber optics cables between China and Taiwan were severed in the earthquake on December 26, so the net has not been working for sites outside of China. It's good to have the resources back again and I will update more frequently now.

It is nearing the Chinese New Year or Spring festival. Students have a holiday so for me that means I am really busy now. I have classes everyday as parents "must" have their children in classes all the time. Sometimes I pity them. They really complain about it, too much but it is understandable. I have seven books I am teaching from or seven different levels with ten classes. So it means for about a month or so I do nothing but teach, eat and sleep. It is also the most profitable time of the year much like summer vacation in July and August.

For those of you that may just be becoming acquainted with this blog, I'll recap a little. I was offered a job at the best university here in Harbin, Harbin Institute of Technology but after two weeks I decided it was not for me. The extremely low salary of 4300 rmb per month coupled with an administration not to my liking made it a pretty easy choice. I'm not really your average teacher. Not that I am bragging about my abilities but I don't really like working for others if it is not an exceptional situation. So I decided to be a businessman and a teacher. To put into perspective, the 4300 rmb per month offered to me can be earned in 4 days if they are my busy weekend days. So you see it was not a difficult decision to make. Here is one thing that was just totally weird. Many of you may know that any kind of religious work as a teacher is prohibited. This is stated in the standard contracts that come from the central planners, it's in every contract. H.I.T. has for many years had a working relationship with a religious, missionary group. I can't remember the name, or would I post it here, but that is just totally bizarre here in China. I have never heard of this happening anywhere else from anyone else. Here is my take on the situation. It is all about expediency. If they can't find enough teachers they just put in their order and lickety split they get 4 or 5 twenty something teachers.

Now China is full of twenty something teachers and many are bright well qualified people but placing zealots into the best university in the province really boggled my mind. Having grown up as a preachers kid I know how these people operate. These people meaning missionaries. The other part of the equation is the Chinese side. I feel I am beginning to understand that a little too. Many students have similar aspirations. Get a good job that pays a lot that requires little work. I feel the answer lies between these two "realities".