Saturday, October 3, 2015

September 2015 Notes (Part 2)

For the purpose of making an entry for, more or less, the second half of the month of September 2015, I will blog (or have blogged) about the following: the second Republican Debate, drinking a can of Coke very fast, composing an email to Mrs S, parking aggravation in Wuxi, something I saw while e-biking, Scott Walker, an Anne Coulter tweet, listening to a Keynesian, my son Tony not doing well at school, homeschooling Tony, reading the Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz, reading David Warren on raising children, Chinese children being able to roam not, a pair of stooped old men, a stolen shopping cart, Chinese men's caveman approach to walking with their girlfriends, an attempt at a joke, and Emily.

  • The Republican Presidential Debate took place while I was editing the September 2015 Part 1 entry. I suppose that opening my blog entry with a comment about old news is not the thing to do in a medium that seems to demand immediacy, but I, seeking to emulate my blogging hero David Warren, hope to be creating another sort of anti-blog blog by discussing things that happened more than five minutes or five hours or five days or five weeks ago.

  • I also didn't watch the debate live. I downloaded the video of the debate and watched it over a stretch of three days during which I published the September 2015 Part 1 entry. I have a number of comments to make about the debate, and because I can't indent them in the blog platform I use, this number of comments is numbered.

  1. Actually, I watched the first hour of the debate and gave up. I had more interesting things I could watch for two hours on my computer like the movie Carousel. So, I make but one comment.

  • We bought a blue Citroen C3 XR. They don't have a blue model in stock unfortunately so we going to have to wait a fortnight before we get it.

  • We bought the car when we went to this promotional event at the Citroen dealership on the day we made the purchase. I got roped into participating in a drinking a can of Coke race and I don't know what I accomplished by doing that.

  • Waiting for the vehicle, I am filled with foreboding. Or rather I can't get very very enthused about it.

  • As we wait for the Citroen, we have a small hope that it will arrive before the October 1 holiday. [From now on, I will refer to our vehicle as the Citroen or the C3 XR or the C3. That is, if I ever refer to it. I don't want to blog about driving in China. I am sure that it has been done before, and done badly, and I don't need to add to it.]

  • I write a reply to Mrs S who is a brilliant blogger and who sent me the email about considering Catholicism. It took me ten days to reply to her email. It was so beautifully written – her email – that I wasn't at all happy with what I had to say in my reply. On Mrs S's advice, I am reading The Confessions of Saint Augustine.

  • Parking! Aggh!!!!!!!!!! We aren't going to spend 36,000 rmb to buy a parking spot at our complex. We will have to find another arrangement. One option is to not buy or rent any parking and just take our chances everyday of finding free parking around the complex.

  • I was e-biking along Wenhui Road, which my apartment overlooks, when I saw two very stooped old men walking down the street. Blessed these men are for being pedestrians, I thought. One of the old men then pointed ahead, indicating the way to the other, and I had a sight that would have made for a great photo. As it is, I have recorded that I saw them and yet can't convey how remarkable the sight of them was to me.

  • I was disappointed to hear that Scott Walker had dropped out of the U.S. presidential race. Of the twenty candidates, including the Democrats, who were running, he was in my top five, and probably my top two (the other being Ted Cruz). It is not a good sign and I can't help but think that this election will have a disappointing result in the end: Hilary wins.

  • The Democrats don't have any viable not-so-stupid options besides Hilary. That one candidate Bernie Sanders makes her look like Ronald Reagan. [Over at my WCE blogspot sight, I have a theory about why Walker resigned.]

  • Is it possible to be anti-Semitic and pro-Israel? That is what people who jump on Anne Coulter because of that one tweet she made, where she used the words "Jews" and "______," are going to have to believe. She praises Israel's immigration policies but doesn't think that Israel, a subject which all the Republicans are generally agreed on, should be taking up such a huge chunk of debate time. She wants immigration to be the number one issue in the 2016 presidential election and hates discussion of what she sees as unimportant and minor issues.

  • As September ends, I am glad to report that there are still women wearing short skirts and shorts.

  • A self-professed Keynesian, on a recent Milton Rosenburg podcast, asked how it could be that there were so many poor people when there was so much money around. It drives me crazy when people say such things about money like it was some sort of magic pixie dust. What is money? It is a tool. Money can't be eaten, it can't get you home faster.... Money is paper or plastic or special bits of information. It is an abstract concept that can't enrich people just because it is there. If the case was that there was lots of resources and many poor people, the Keynesian would at least be asking the right question.

  • Thought experiment for the Keynesian. Send a person to the Moon with nothing but a lot of gold. How will this person do? Probably not well, but it would be a mystery to the Keynesian as to why it is because, after all, the person has a lot of gold.

  • I have no complaints; I just have problems. Does this make any sense?

  • My son Tony is not doing well at school and so my wife Jenny is contemplating home-schooling him for the rest of the school year and then having him start grade three all over again next September. I am all for the idea. From what I understand, he is not learning anything. He doesn't understand what his teachers are saying; and his teachers, who have 39 brighter students in class, are ignoring him. The teachers only want Tony to be quiet and not disturb the other students. The teachers do put pressure on Jenny to get Tony to read and understand Chinese better but the result is that Tony says he hates school and only wants to play computer games all the time. When I asked what other things he is interested in, he is sullen and says "I don't know!"

  • That Tony should be falling behind his classmates is not an earth-shattering disappointment or shock to me. There are several factors for his falling behind which I had suspected would cause this to happen. The first is the fact of his birth date. He was born on August 23 which is but a week before the September 1 cut-off date which determines what grade a child can enter in China. Tony has always been behind in development from his classmates who are older than him. The second factor is his living in a cross cultural household. While he is bilingual, he is mediocre at both languages. In a classroom atmosphere where English is a minor subject and one has to be very good at Chinese, Tony is sitting in class, not understanding and falling farther behind. The third and fourth factors, I can think to mention, have to do with my being his father. I was 42 when Tony was born, rather late for me to father a child, and Tony may not so bright as a result. Such as he is, I can only hope that he is as he ought to be. [This phrasing I am copying from Mrs S] That is, I want him to be good whatever his talents and intelligence are or are not. For him to be good, I have to raise him so, and so the second factor in his unsatisfactory development that I can attribute to my being his father is trying to be his friend and not an authority. [I was going to say that I was negligent in my parenting style, but that is not true. I don't neglect Tony. Far from it. I spend my time with him trying to indulge him.]

  • I welcome the chance to home-school Tony in reading and writing English but it won't be easy. Jenny is only home-schooling him so that he can be in more conformance with the Chinese education system. I don't want that. I would like to home-school him forever. I want a keen kid, who is comfortable in his skin and not at all a cypher. I want to home-school him to the possibilities of learning without succumbing to its stupidities of progressive education or whatever the Chinese Communists want done in their schools. [The chance to home-school Tony also gives me a chance to do one thing on which I can rightly say I have been negligent with Tony: his spiritual development. I have to teach him to pray and think about God.]

  • September 25, the conclusion of the book The Captive Mind by Czesław Miłosz,and an older David Warren blog entry really hit home with me.

  • The Captive Mind's stirring concluding chapter discussed Latvia. (I am of Latvian descent) The book compares the fate of Latvians in World War Two to that of the Incas being conquered and then hunted down by the Spanish. The author made the observation, that he thankfully disavowed in his book's final pages, that the exterminations of many Latvians and the Incas was a minor thing on the pages of a history book, and that in the long run, it could be argued that they were necessary to allow historical forces progress toward a kumbaya world. It only took the sight of a rustic peasant from a backwater pouring tea for his child to squelch that notion for the author.

  • The Warren blog entry discussed raising kids. I had actually copied it from the Internet, a few months ago, and placed it in a file that I was to work with for an English Corner I was to do about raising children. I read the entry again after earlier reading the final chapter of Milosz's book. The Warren entry really hit home with me because I also came upon it again only hours after I had had a big argument with Jenny about the entry's very topic: raising children. If we home-school Tony, it would seem that Jenny and I are of not of one mind on how to educate him. I want to teach him English but also give him even freedom to find the skills he needs to get on in this life. I don't want to be drilling him to read some textbooks, just so he can get high marks. I do have – and on this score Jenny is right to be angry with me – to be more stern with him. However, after admitting this and other errors to Jenny, I got frustrated because Jenny didn't have any suggestions to correct the problems. So, the Warren entry was an answer to my prayers. Warren advocated a counter-intuitive (at least to me who has been poisoned by progressive notions) sort of tough neglect when raising children. His approach is tough and yet gives children the freedom to deal with the consequences of their actions.

  • Warren in that entry wrote that his mother was very laisez-faire (malapropism: lazy fair) with him about school. Warren's mother was quite willing to accommodate his truancy from public school, but she did teach him to read and write. This is how I would like to be with Tony (I say this between looking up how to teach a child to read on the Internet). I don't want him to be an ideal student in a Chicom system, but unfortunately Jenny does.

  • Thinking about the home schooling of Tony and re-reading Warren's entry about raising children, I am bubbling forth with ideas about how to school him. I want him to take more responsibility for himself. I want him to be able to clean up after himself. I want him to be able to do some things in the kitchen. I want him to teach him to be an adult who can look after himself till he finds a wife. I want him to be able to take some initiative. I want him to help me clean our new car.

  • Chinese children aren't allowed to roam free. When I make this observation to Chinese parents, they tell me how dangerous the urban environment is. For example, when I told Jenny that when I was in grade three, the opening of the back door of the house was all that was needed to send me and my sister off to school, she balked and asked if I could imagine Tony dealing with all the cars and e-bikes if he walked home by himself. She has a point. Chinese drivers being what they are, I would have a hard time letting my one child roam freely in any neighborhoods where there are cars or e-bikes.

  • What spurred all the thoughts about home-schooling was my coming home at 9:00 PM on evening and seeing Jenny tiger-mothering Tony as she was helping him do his homework. It seemed to me that Jenny was being hard on Tony and I grumbled. The fireworks then started to fly. I won't attempt to paraphrase what was spoken during the discussion but relate this one anecdote. Jenny told me that when she was young, she did poorly in a math test and her mother knocked her on ground and then dragged her by the hair for two km home. Jenny grew up a decade or so after the cultural revolution.

  • I was all gung-ho, full of spit and vinegar, to home-school Tony in the morning, but when the evening came and I was tired and Tony was wanting to play computer and Ipad, I quickly compromised on all that I thought I would do with him.

  • Nothing much happened to me in the last days of September, 2015 that was bloggable. We saw our vehicle but weren't able to drive it because it wasn't insured yet.

  • On the last day of September, I saw two sights pass by the window of Casa Kaulins that faces onto Wenhui Road. First, a grandmother was piggyback-carrying a big child on her back. Talk about spoiling a child! Then, another older woman was pulling a shopping cart containing bags of groceries. It was the first time I had seen someone use a stolen shopping cart in China. And she took it down Wenhui Road, which runs in front of a big police station and then past another government building, in broad daylight.

  • From my desk at school, which allows me to look down on Zhongshan Road pedestrians, I see a man walking with his girlfriend and holding onto her ponytail. Chinese men walking with their female companions can look quite brutal to this blogger's eyes. I have seen local men have their arms around a girl so that it looked like a head-lock, or as if the fellow was genuinely scared that his girlfriend was going to leave him.

  • A possible funny exchange. Me (To a co-worker): Did you ever write a letter, put it in an envelope with an address on it, put an stamp on the envelope, and then put in a mailbox? Co-worker: Ah. Yeah.... How old do you think I am? Me: 24, 25. Co-worker: What ho! I'll have you know I am 37. Me: 37? You gots to be joking. I mean, like how do you measure your age? The metric system? Everyone: Ha Ha Ha.

  • Marketing workers at our school have a dirty job. They have to go on the street to try and get people to come into our school. One of the girls seemed sweet enough in a forlorn sort of way and was making an effort to study English. They let her go for some reason and she has been coming to the school to get the pay owed her. Heart breaking to see her walk to the pay office.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 2015 Notes (Part 1)

In this entry which covers my first half of September 2015, I will, as always, try to make comments that are cryptic, and I will definitely make entries about: my son Tony going back to school, getting my Chinese driver's license, seeing pictures of Chairman Mao on prominent display in some Jiangsu countryside homes, the big parade held in Beijing on September 3rd, seeing Putin and Xi Da Da at the Beijing Parade, taking Tony to the Grand Canal, Tony always scheming to play computer games, people being cattled around at a shopping center, picking up Tony at his school, an email from a Mrs S about Catholicism, a beggar at a Starbucks, my getting high scores doing the Chinese driving practice test, fatal consequences to the crowded scenes of parents picking up or dropping off their children at school, security guards in a bakery, book bags with wheels, going to and from the Gissing company, being told to get unnecessary documents by the government, the atmosphere of a government place making me feel ill at ease, the Citroen C3 RX, traveling around some different parts of Wuxi, double-parking on a massive scale, a student's project at work, economic anecdotes, and getting criticism from Tony.

I also hope to make you laugh.

  • Tony was back to school – he is now in Grade 3 – on September 1. That date, I was up at 6:00 AM to help get him out of the house by 7:00 AM.

  • I started studying to get my Chinese driver's license. I need to get it because I couldn't renew my license in Canada and so I need to renew it in China so I can drive when I am in Canada.

  • I got a score of 73 out of 100 on my first practice test for the license.

  • On the second day of doing the tests, I improved to 85.

  • I told the student named Brandon about relatives I had seen in my wife Jenny's hometown who had pictures of Chairman Mao on prominent display in their homes. I had mentioned it to him because he told me that poor people in the faraway provinces of China only still did this; and so when I told him about two I knew in Beixin, Jiangsu, (including my in-laws) he was very much surprised.

  • To watch or not watch the military parade from Beijing on September 3? That is [was] the question.

  • I passed the practice test on my second day! So! Not only am I going to pass this test, I am going to win the Mao Medal!!! Ha ha ha! Yeah!!

  • September 3rd (Thursday), September 4th (Friday) and September 5th (Saturday) were public holidays in China to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII or, as the Chinese call it, the War against Japan. So, everyone would be back to work on September 6th (Sunday) and thus had a six day work week to look forward to. I had the 3rd off, but worked the 4th and 5th before taking my usual Sunday and Monday (the 6th and 7th ) off.

  • I watched small snatches of that big military parade in Beijing on the 3rd. I watched first at home and then at the Wanda Shopping Mall where the parade was being shown on the big video screens outside and inside of the building. Some locals were gathered around a big outside screen watching the goings-on in Beijing, but indoors, shoppers were going about their days not paying attention.

  • I noticed that Putin seemed to be the foreign guest of honor and that the parade looked like all the national day parades that I had seen.

  • Xi Da Da, as he in affectionately called by the students, stood like a mannequin, his heads and shoulders sticking out the top of a limousine that drove past the assembled troops and the vehicles that would later parade past him as he stood in the reviewing stand atop the Tienanmen Square portrait of Chairman Mao. I noticed the lines marked in the pavement that his limo had to follow. The detail struck me as interesting.

  • During the holiday, I tried to get Tony to walk along the Grand Canal for something different to do, but he wasn't at all interested and became whiny. All he wanted do, when I could get him to admit it, was play computer games.

  • It is now the SOP when I take Tony anywhere that we have to have a battle of wills where I alternately lose my temper and try to console him, and he either cries or rolls his eyes at me. We also have these fruitless arguments where I either beg him to tell me what he wants or I scold him, and he either says he doesn't know or engages in mimicry of everything I say.

  • Another thing with Tony is that he is always scheming to get more computer game playing time. One time, he suggested that I let him play Minecraft on the Apple TV. Somehow, to his way of thinking, this did not constitute playing games on the computer or Ipad, even though you need a computer or an Ipad to play on the Apple TV. He has also started to press his hands together in a pleading gesture when begging for me to let him play. And when Mom's away....

  • On the first Saturday night in September, I was at the Wanda Plaza where I had chance to witness a large number of people walking through a twisted path of cattle gates. A further survey of the scene made me realize that something was being given away for free and the masses were keen on getting free stuff. If it wasn't for the bad lighting conditions and my iPhone's inadequate camera I would have taken some grand photos.

  • Traffic jam by a kindergarten. I got on my e-bike and went to pick up Tony from school. The route I took was to take me pass an "experimental" kindergarten. However, I got to within 500 meters of that school and saw that the road was so jammed that drivers were getting out of their cars in order to raise their hands in frustration. I tried to make my way around the cars but had to give up because the cars were not lined up, but instead were strewn every which way because their drivers' efforts to evade the jam only got them more stuck. I could only escape by raising my heavy e-bike onto the sidewalk and taking an alternative route.

  • I still got to Tony's school ahead of time, but as the jam at the kindergarten foreboded, the area around the primary school entrance was crammed with people, e-bikes and cars making it hard for me to find a spot to park my e-bike.

  • Because of the September 3rd beating Japan in WW2 holiday, I had to pick up Tony from school on both Sunday and Monday. The second day I went was the second day of a change in procedure for parents to pick up their kids. The first day was a bit a smozzle the authorities must have decided, for the second day there were black uniformed security guards keeping the pick-up areas, where the children were to be brought, clear.

  • I got an email from a blogger who I had decided to follow after David Warren had linked to her blog in one of his blog entries. Mrs S. poked around my blog, read my proclamation that I wanted to be Catholic, asked why I hadn't become one yet, and offered to help me, citing her experience with the Catholic programs that educate adult converts. I was thrilled to have gotten her email. It was the first time any visitor to my blog had made mention of my Catholic declaration. I was glad to have her challenge me on my inaction, but I was intimidated to receive an email from someone so intelligent and literate in their writing style. My loneliness and isolation have fostered for me a confidence in my level of discourse that I shouldn't have. [I suspect my Catholic declaration has maybe lost me a few regular readers but I am not looking for quantity of readers, I am looking for quality.]

  • At a Starbucks on Zhongshan Road (the one that is near our school and next to Ba Bai Ban), I saw a beggar kneeling right by the entrance. There seemed to be blood on his face. I looked closer at him and then recoiled. It looked like he had cut a web of deep gashes on his face to shock people to give him alms.

  • As I type this, I plan on doing the actual test to get my Chinese Driving Test on Tuesday, September 15th. This very moment when I type this sentence (almost a week before the 15th), I am getting 98s and 99s on the practice tests.

  • I complained to a student about the crowded conditions at schools at the times where parents were picking up or dropping off their children; and she told me of a tragic story in Kunshan. (Kunshan, if you take the train from Wuxi to Shanghai, is just outside of Shanghai but part of Suzhou district.) At a school there, a child was getting out of his parents car when another car, driving by, hit and killed him. Such an awful thing. I shudder to imagine the pain that causes the parents. Such stories really hit home with me because it is something I always worry about with Tony here in China.

  • I walked into the 85 Bakery on 9/11 and was startled to see two security guards standing in the at-ease posture. I must have twitched when I got startled because the guards made gestures indicating that it was safe for me to enter. It seemed to me that they were in the bakery guarding all these boxes that were piled up in one corner of the store. This bakery had two security guards watching the stock!!! [The boxes contain lots of mooncake for the approaching Mid-Autumn Festival.]

  • I have noticed that more and more public school students going to school are pulling book bags with wheels. [Apparently this had already been happening in America for ten years, but it was new to me. The reason that they do it is because it is now believed that heavy backpacks loaded with books are bad for students backs.] In my mind it looks like these kids are posing as jet-setters who are above the level of back-packing proles.

  • Does a no-stopping sign in China mean no parking? I ask this because studying for the driver's license has made me aware of traffic signs. There is a sign that is blue and circular on which there is the red outline of a circle surrounding an X made with thin red lines. From practicing the test, I know that this sign means no stopping. But at the beginning of an alleyway near the school, there is such a sign and in the alleyway, there are cars parked all down one side. I would think that this was in violation of the sign. But could it be that parking is not stopping? That is, to be stopping, you have to be moving, and so if you are parked, you aren't moving which means you can't be stopping. Or you could say that the car is only parked there and not stopped because it will be moved later?

  • I finally got a 100 on my Chinese Driving Test Practice App. [I say "finally" because it was my goal to do so.]

  • Every second Friday evening, starting in September, I go to a company called Gissing which is in Wuxi's Xishan District, just East of the Hui Shan District where I live. As far as I was concerned the company wasn't all that far from where I lived. To get to my apartment from the company would be fairly easy: take a road to the freeway, then turn onto the freeway, then get off the freeway and viola, we are in my district. But the Gissing students told me that I lived far from their company; and when I took the taxi back, it did cost me 43 rmb: an expensive taxi ride.

  • Should it surprise me that one part of Chinese government doesn't know what the other part is doing? I went about the process of getting the paperwork I needed to take the test to get my Chinese driver's license. A local Expat website had said that all I needed was to get a resident registration form from my nearby police station, and a notarized translation of my Canadian driver's license. I got the resident form and then I went downtown with Jenny to another government office where foreigners renew their visas. Workers there told her that I needed to get another document from my school. We went through the rigmarole of getting this document, which took us four days, only to have Jenny take it to that downtown government office and be told that it was no good because it didn't have enough information in it. Jenny got angry and decided to phone the motor vehicle office where foreigners can take the test they need to pass to get the driver's license. They told her that she didn't need that form from the company which we had spent four days getting.

  • Looking back at the Expat site where I had first gotten the information about getting the driver's license, I noticed that someone had made a comment about having to go through all sorts of hoops to get the driver's license. One of these hoops of was getting some document from the company. And yet someone I know who had recently gotten the driver's license said it was no hassle at all and didn't need any document from the company... [It seems that foreigners who don't go to the downtown Visa office but instead contact the Driver's Licensing office are saved that hassle of being told to get that form.]

  • I finally got a Chinese driver's license after taking two trips – of course, it wasn't going to take one – to the Licensing Office which is in the Hubin District of Wuxi, not far from the Tangtieqiao Metro Station of Line #1. The first day, with Jenny's help, I presented my documents, had my eyes checked, had photos of my face and the back of my hands taken, and then learned that I could come the next day to take the test. The next day, I went back, took the test and to my disappointment, got 99 out of 100. I only needed to get 90 to pass but it was my stated goal to ace the thing. I was done in by a question that was worded differently from the question I had seen over and over again on the Internet practice app: the guide line in the intersection on the Internet was, on the government computer, called a guide line for non-motorized vehicles, which didn't seem right.

  • But at least I can brag that I did the test quickly, using only 12 of the allotted 45 minutes.

  • When I walked into the licensing office the first time, I was intimidated (or felt out of sorts). The place's atmosphere was bustling, but oddly of a mass impatient feeling of a mob wanting to get the process over and done with.

  • Jenny & I also went vehicle-shopping during these two trips! Jenny wanted to get either a Citroen or a Peugeot brand vehicle. She was definitely not going to buy any Japanese brands! The two French brands she was set on because they seemed to have good reputations among those of her acquaintances who had cars. We went to both brand's dealerships and we considered buying their basic sedan models and their small SUVs (which I thought of more as being large hatchbacks).

  • From these trips, it looks like Jenny is keen on getting a Citroen C3 RX SUV-slash-hatchback. It has lots of trunk space and lots of sitting room in the back for Tony. It as well looks cooler and less boring than a sedan. Tony wants us to get something blue and cool. He hates sedans, and has told me he likes Porsche Boxsters, BMWs and Jaguars.

  • Getting my driver's license and shopping for cars has me looking closer at traffic and at parking in Wuxi, and I see that I sure as heck am not going to have a Shangri-La life just because I will have access to a vehicle. The drivers do dangerous things and parking is at a premium.

  • Looking for cars with Jenny has had me going to parts of Wuxi that I hadn't seen before or hadn't seen in a while. Wuxi's development is strange and uneven. New buildings, including countless shopping plazas have been built beside old houses, old factories and the ruins of old houses and factories.

  • A second Citroen dealership we went to was across the street from what looked to be an abandoned factory.

  • One evening, I walked home from the Metro Station. There are several routes I can take to do this. One way is to follow the lit main roads, another is to walk through the Olympic Apartment Complex, and yet another, which I took that evening, takes me through a park and down this street of businesses, above and behind which are apartments. I was struck, because our imminent automobile purchase has made me sensitive to these things, of how difficult parking was to come by on this street. I guess that were at least twenty cars double-parked on this road which is about four or five car widths wide with parallel parking on both sides taking up two widths. At one spot, double-parked cars were parked across the street from each other leaving only a narrow lane for traffic to pass through. One has to wonder if the cars are double-parked temporarily, if perhaps they made arrangements with other drivers in order to double park, or if, as Jenny suspects, they don't want to pay parking fees.

  • I had a student, weak on vocabulary it turned out, who was telling me about a company project she was working on which involved her having to change a delivery system. No longer could they use a third party to deliver goods for them. They were being made to deliver the goods themselves in hopes of saving money.

  • Here is some anecdotal evidence of a slowing Chinese economy. One student told me she was feeling sad because her company was doing layoffs because of a decrease in orders. Another student with whom I had a weekday daytime class told me that he was only working three days a week , also because his company was getting less orders.

  • There was this amusing scene in the film Top Hat and I got it into my head to teach the students to use the royal "we." And I was happy to see that the students found the usage to be amusing.

  • Jenny has her driver's license for several years now, but hasn't driven a car since she got it. I am going to have to teach her.... Another thought that occurs to me as the purchase of the car approaches.

  • Tony had just gotten out of the shower. I walked in, without my shirt on, to give him a towel and his sleeping clothes. He looked at me and told me I was fat. [Later, he said I was bad because I had restarted a laptop while he was in the midst of playing some game.]

  • I think I have written enough for my first entry of September 2015. Stay tuned for my next entry to see how I progressed with regards to the car purchase and my correspondence with Mrs. S.

Monday, August 31, 2015

AKIC's August 2015 Notes

In this entry, I make many cryptic comments, and I blog about my efforts to buy pineapple beer, going to Yanqiao town, my son Tony’s clumsiness, my reaction to Beijing getting the Winter Olympics, my e-bike, the 85 bakery, witnessing a van hitting an e-bike, local men taking off their tops, Zomia, getting cut off at the lineup to a security machine, hawkers at the Metro station, female students going to Canada who don’t seem to want to, my being stupid, my not making comments on others blogs, Tony and the iPad, Tony developing an attitude, country music, some Nicholas Gomez Davilia aphorisms, students taking drugs, a pretty graduate from Kwantlan College in Vancouver, Charles Adler, an angry Shandong tourist guide, Chinese students and tools, a student returning from Chilliwack, the first Republican Presidential debate, no rain and then lots of leaking in Hui Shan, Tony displaying Chutzpah, True Love, the Donald, PC, imperial English names, my picking on students, a Pete Rose memory, the Donald Trump Love Child, a Spanish student, two e-bikes together, Tony’s 8th birthday, Tianjin, eating with a shovel, Tony and Minecraft, English Speaking Contest, wide straw hats, Hui Shan Central Park, a desire to spit on drivers, my inadequacies, what a barbarian is, the Benedict Option, the Xibei Canal, being called a Waiguoren, buying an ironing board at Ikea, the Canadian federal election, Tony swimming, bagels in China, John Derbyshire and David Warren on Trump, being superfluous, another year at the school, Cristy Li, Chinese Lover’s Day, Sesame Street on HBO, our students heading back to school, Tony and hash browns, the Mark Levin Podcast, quitting blogging, anal telepathy, seeing a foreigner getting on an elevator, a brief trip to Beixin, watching the film Ghostbusters with Tony, the Great Fall of China, the bully boy pickup truck, Grandmothers and their grandchildren, barge train on the Xibei Canal, being a representative of Canada, wanting to blame it all on Canada, a student who has a grandfather who adamantly refuses to learn how to use a telephone, Morrissey, a student named Brandon, cheering for me, a student ranking Los Angeles and San Francisco and Salt Lake City, choosing escalators or stairs at the Metro station, how to explain playing possum, an outburst at an SPC, my reputation, a military parade in Beijing, going swimming, Adios America by Anne Coulter, what I did on the last day of August, and a plan to make more frequent blog entries.

[I wrote some of the following entries in the present tense and some in the past tense. I try my best to edit them, keeping the tense that I think best conveys what I am trying to say, like the ones where I write before something happened which I then wrote later about. Also, some of the bulleted points are numbered. I have done this because these points are meant to be further-indented. The indents work when I type this entry in my word processing program, but don't seem to when I cut and past the text into the blog platform.]

  • July started off wet and ended hot. 

  • Last day of July, I felt crabby when teaching. The students, I deal with, are what they are – annoying – and there is nothing much I can do about it. [Or am willing to do about it.]

  • I don't have much to look forward to in August, but at least, I don't have to waste hours with that spoiled brat student, I dealt with in July, who finally went to Canada. [As soon as I typed that, another student, the mopey one I have called her, is taking classes here before she goes to BC on August 31.]

  • It's been a slow summer for the school. There were no weekday daytime shifts to accommodate summer students. There wasn't any need. 

  • Lesson plans designed to run out the clock; not to teach anything.

  • The kids are bigger and stronger now, but they sure aren't better painters or poets.

  • From school, I walked all the way, in the stifling heat, to a grocery store to buy my favorite brand of pineapple beer, only to find that it was sold out. I ended up buying 750 ml size bottles of Nongfu Spring water because they weren't available in the shops nearer the school.

  • I went to Yanqiao on a Saturday night, for the first time in a year. I saw that the place had been given a face lift and so I was briefly disoriented.

  • The reason I went to Yanqiao was to buy some pineapple beer, but again I had no luck. And in one grocery store, I got heck from an employee for bringing in my purchases from another store.

  • Two times, Tony was with me eating and drinking and being clumsy and knocking things onto the floor. [After writing this entry, there was a third time where he spilled his cheesecake on the floor. I mention this on an editing pass through. In all these incidents, Tony would flinch and instantly apologize in a pleading way.]

  • I was feeling snarky when a student told me that Beijing had been awarded the Winter Olympics, and so I told the entire class that I didn't care because they didn't care when Canada held the Winter Olympics in 2010. [To be fair, I didn't much care for the 2010 Olympics either.] 

  • Hosting the Olympics is a curse that really the communists deserve.

  • I parked my e-bike next to Jenny's e-bike at the Yanqiao Metro station. It was Tony's sharp eyes that spotted his mother's e-bike for me.

  • The 85 degree bakery near our school has a upper floor that is great for having coffee because it is always so empty. I have been taking Tony there in the morning before he has to start his summer school. One Monday morning, I saw an older woman up there and she took to lying down on the booth-like seats. Pathetic.

  • Standing at an intersection corner waiting for a green pedestrian signal, I heard a scream and looked to my right to see a mini-van hit an e-bike on the broadside and knock the rider off her bike so that she landed on her back and seemed to have hit her head. But she quickly got up, the driver of the van got out of his vehicle, and the first result was that the two of them were picking up contents of the woman's purse. They then looked at her e-bike which surely had been damaged. 

  • Witnessing the incident was sobering for me. I hope nothing like that happens to Jenny or me.

  • Who was at fault in the accident? I would say the driver was. I don't think he had a green light and drivers in China don't seem to stop when making right turns on red lights. This driver probably decided he could barrel through the corner.

  • With the summer heat comes, the local males walk shirtless in public, which is disconcerting to this Canadian who has always felt that walking about with no shirt, except at the beach, is low class. One morning, I saw the manager of the nearby Xinjiang restaurant doing this. There he was sitting at a bench in front of the restaurant, with no shirt on, using his calculator. I also saw a young man entering the Yanqiao Metro station wearing a backpack with no shirt on, which struck me as being even more strange and low class.

  • Early in August, I read a book about exploration in the Inca and Peruvian highlands, places that are very high indeed. And then just it happened that David Warren published an entry about an area of highlands in Asia called Zomia. Highlanders said Warren are the last strain of independent peoples in the world. Independent that is of the Nation State.

  • One afternoon at the Metro Station, I was trying quickly to put my bag through the X-ray machine but had the misfortune of being behind a woman who was slowly lifting up a heavy bag of luggage on the conveyor belt. I had to wait but while I was, this other woman squeezed in front of me to try to put her bag on the belt. You had to wonder what she was thinking but she gave a quick start when she saw me standing there, and so moved behind me. I gave her the evil eye.

  • On the Wuxi Metro, I saw a few workers, wearing the same uniforms. One of them had his arm around another man. I assume they were friend friends.

  • Make a sentence with "chicken," I asked a student.  She said:  "I like to cook meat in the chicken."

  • Riding the e-bike home from the Metro station at night is exhilarating.

  • To get to the platform at the Yanqiao Metro Station, one has to ascend stairs and then cross a pedestrian bridge to get to the ticket machines and turnstiles. In the first days of August, I saw people sitting on the bridge selling bottles of drinks. Very entrepreneurial, I thought, and I wondered if they needed a license to do it. [I didn't seem them standing there as the month came to an end. Perhaps, they got shooed away by the security. They do have a security guard around the Station who monitors the parking of bikes and e-bikes, and this guard will move people's bikes around if they are not parked properly.]

  • Another teenage female student is going to Canada. Another trainer who had to teach her told me he had asked her where she was going exactly in Canada and got a mumbly I-don't-know. I had asked her that question a month before and had gotten the same answer. I have a good mind to tell her that she is a spoiled bitch and shouldn't be allowed in Canada. People escape oppression and poverty to get to Canada, and she just seems irritated to be going there. Ten migrant workers from the interior should be allowed to go in her stead. [After making this entry, I had this student, who was the mopey one, in a class. Asking her how she was, she said she was not doing well, and that she wish she was doing homework. She didn't mention whether was excited about going to BC or not.]

  • Stupid me, I spent the whole day thinking I was to discuss education and culture with an evening class. But when I had done introductions and small talk with the students, they told me that they were expecting to talk about musical instruments, and I had to leave the class to find the binder with the right lesson plan in it.

  • I am not the sort to make comments on articles or other people's blogs on the Internet. One reason I don't is because I am in China and connection to sites where comments can be made are weak, and I would often run the risk of typing out something and having it get lost in the netherworld of poor Internet connectivity. But even if the poor connectivity wasn't a problem, I still wouldn't make comments because of my passive nature. I just love making diary and blog entries.

  • My son Tony – I say it again – has got some sort of unhealthy Ipad addiction and an attitude. I point his addiction out to him constantly – all the while indulging him in his addiction, I know – and he gets mighty snarky. I don't know where he picked up this action, but what he likes to do when something I say annoys him is to roll his eyes, presenting the whites to me. I am going to have to use the power of controlling the Ipad to stop this. He feels he is entitled to use it anytime he wants.

  • Free Wifi is what you pay for sometimes. Recently, I haven't been able to connect to it easily everywhere I go, including school.

  • David Warren wrote a blog entry about country music. He said he appreciated that music because it was musical and had truths to say about life, unlike rock music with all its vulgarity. His entry reminded me of people I have known who hated country music. One person back in my Winnipeg days told me he hated country music because all it was about was dogs dying and wives running away. Another person, a Brit of some sort in Wuxi, told me he was proud of the fact that he had only ever listened to one country song. [This person was of another zoological species and not having anything to say to him, I didn't bother ever talking to him.] 

  • And I will give the Chinese much credit for this: most of them tell me that they like country music. In the class I had about musical instruments in which I had to wing it because I had prepared the wrong topic, I played a Bob Willis and Texas Playboys songs with fiddles, and all the students told me they loved it. [In the middle of August, I downloaded albums by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and the Flying Burrito Brothers.]

  • So many people seem to be of a different zoological species from me. [I make this thought after thinking of that Nicholas Gomez Davilia aphorism (see my July entry) about many people being of different zoological species from the authors we read.] I don't mean that they all should be put in zoos – though there are always some that should – but it is like I am a fish and they are cows who never the twain should meet.

  • Do Chinese students take drugs? The ones I deal with don't, but I had one stuttering, giggling young male student who made me wonder. He conformed to my recollections of potheads right down to the unkempt hair.

  • One female student I had was a graduate of Kwantlan College in Vancouver. I first encountered her attending one of my salon classes. Her prettiness and her having been to Vancouver, made me want to ask her all sorts of questions. She said she had been to Hope once which amazed me. I have this impression that most Chinese who go to Vancouver don't ever go into the Fraser River Valley.

  • Charles Adler is no longer working at CJOB. What's he doing? Moving to BC. I did the same thing. And yet, he says Winnipeg is a wonderful place. It was for family reasons he said he was leaving. Right.

  • A student told me this: a tour guide in Shandong was so angry about the tourists not buying anything at these shops that she had taken them to, that she threatened to abandon them on the side of the road. So what did the Chinese tourists do? They bought things at the shops.

  • Tools class. Chinese students don't use tools. What do you use this tool for? Silence till someone says “Ah! Killing People!”  Has anyone used this tool? Silence.

  • Student spends two years at our school and then spends a year in Chilliwack and her English, when I reunited with her here, was awful. In my mind, I had thought it was much better than it was. Or was my memory playing tricks on me? 

  • She told these things about high schools in BC. She said she was good in her First Nations class. The teachers were on strike for three weeks. She had classes from 9:00 to 2:30. [In Wuxi, the classes are from 7:30 to 5:00.]

  • Shop Class or Cooking class? During the tools class, I asked the students (mostly males), and all but one, said they would choose to take cooking class.

  • I downloaded and watched the full video of the first Republican presidential debate. That is the one with the ten front-runners. It was a great spectacle but a terrible basis on which to decide who should be the president. There were simply too many candidates and no real debate. It was a scatter-shot thing to watch so I will just have to make scatter-shot comments [13 scatter-shots actually]

  1. I liked all the candidates, even the Donald. They were all impressive in their own way. They would all make better presidents than any Democrat.

  2. What to think of the Donald? He was entertaining. He had some fine moments and some low moments. I think he will be in the race for a while.

  3. I very much liked Ben Carson. His quiet and gracious manner was endearing. But alas he is too reflective for the soundbite age in which we live.

  4. I was disappointed with Scott Walker's performance. But then the forum that he was in wouldn't never show him at his best. He has the best record of all the candidates to run on.

  5. Jeb Bush wasn't so bad. He gave good answers but he wasn't commanding. [There was a deer in the headlight look to him when he was standing near the Donald.]

  6. Marco Rubio looked the best.

  7. Rand Paul has a strange hairdo but not as strange as the Donald's.

  8. I wish that more questions could have been asked of Ted Cruz.

  9. Chris Christie wasn't bad, but it seems like his time has passed.

  10. John Kasich didn't seem presidential with his body language. He shook like John Diefenbaker.

  11. Mike Huckabee gave some great answers.

  12. Who won the debate? No one really. For most of them it was a draw. For a few, it was a lost. Just don't ask me who.

  13. I suppose the winner of the debate will be decided by the pundits. After watching the debate, I quickly surfed for their reactions. I found I didn't see what they said they saw.

  • We paid for ten days of no rain by having a day of torrential rain which caused all buildings of Hui Shan to leak. The Hui Shan Wanda Plaza had the usual hundred pails out in the corridors to catch the rain leaking through the glass roof. The Yanqiao Metro Station's escalator on the arrival side of the platform was closed because it was drenched in rain from a leaking roof of its own as well as the wind blowing the rain in from the wall-less sides of the platform.

  • When I was trying to read a book on the Ipad, Tony said to me, “The Ipad is bad for your eyes.” Chutzpah?

  • Davilia aphorism 592:  Indifference to art is betrayed by the pompous solemnity of the homage often rendered it. True love remains silent or mocks.  [I like the sound of the last sentence, but is it true?]

  • One sunny but cool Wednesday morning, I was to take Tony to his summer school so I was out early to retrieve the e-bike from its parking spot which is at the other end of the Apartment Complex. Walking down a lane, I passed three old men wearing those wide-brimmed straw hats that are so Asian, and the sight of them was enough to give me a good feeling.

  • So much I would like to tell (or teach) Tony, but I don't think he is capable of or interested in understanding me.

  • What to make of the Donald? I have been hearing a lot of reasons not to like him. I will have to listen for arguments for him. But it is hard for me to get away from the impression that Trump is really anti-free trade, pro-socialized medicine, pro-abortion, pro-Hilary Clinton despite his claims that he has changed his mind.... One thing is for sure, if he does win the Republican nomination, it would change the alignment of US politics such that I would have to give up on democracy altogether.

  • Is Trump perhaps the product of the vulgarity that was unleashed in the 1960s that political correctness tried so hard but failed to put back in the genie bottle?

  • In the 1960's, there was an easing on the censorship of vulgarity. It was mistakenly thought of as leading to a greater freedom of expression. It instead lead to a coarsening of language and thus thought and a different kind of censorship commonly refereed to as political correctness tried to put the coarseness down. But PC became an untenable censorship of ideas and the coarseners are rebelling. Oh, how we need the old standards back!

  • Looking out my apartment window at the road below, I happened to see a self-propelled wagon (actually a motorcycle attached to a small 3 feet by 8 feet deck) carrying six old ladies.

  • In a private class, I will have two students named General and Caesar. In the past, we have had students named King and Kaiser. [It turned out that Caesar didn't come.]

  • When I do Salon classes (Conversation classes with 7 or 8 students), I always need to have one students be a comic foil; or if you're cynical about me, I need some student on whom to pick. [There I didn't end the sentence with a preposition.] One kid, who is very slim – so much so that I would say is his face is chipmunk-like – and very fidgety always receives my wrath. In a salon class about gambling, I said that if he won a jackpot, he would take to wearing gold rings on all his fingers, a big gold chain on his chest, and a big gold crown, tilted, on his head. To his credit though, he said he would put the money in the bank and live off the interest.

  • A memory popped into my head. When I was living in New Brunswick, I was able, in the night, to pick up the signal from WCAU, a Philadelphia AM sports talk radio station. And I was sending letters to one of the hosts, whose name was Nick Charles, if I remembered correctly. He got me an autographed photo of Pete Rose (not a betting slip.) But after a while, he got sick of my letters so he told me that I should hit the school books. Good advice, but I don't know if I heeded that well.

  • Tony will think of any way he can to get Ipad Mini playing time. One morning when we were in the 85 Degree Bakery so I could have morning coffee and he could eat something for breakfast, I told him it was time for us to leave and for him to get to school. He made a whining sound to this order and said that I wasn't finished my coffee. I told him I could take the coffee with me but he wanted me to finish it first.

  • One of my colleagues is truly a Donald Trump love child, conceived in a limousine parked near a boardwalk in Atlantic City.

  • One of the students is studying Spanish. One day, he told me that these studies were experiencing a bottleneck because of the language's pronouns.

  • One night, I had the two Kaulins family e-bikes parked together for recharging. They were practically hugging, I told Jenny.

  • Tony's 8th birthday is on August 23rd. The whole month, I did give some thought to what present to buy him but there was no thing which the idea of could satisfy me, or Jenny. Tony was a not source of any ideas because he was obsessed by computer games and nothing else.

  • Jenny was also floating the idea of having his birthday party in the countryside.[I was mistaken when I typed that.]

  • I asked Tony where I should park my e-bike by the Metro Station. He would say he didn't know and then get upset by where I did decide to park; his criteria suddenly being that he wanted to park as close to the entrance as possible.

  • Student more interested in the Tianjin blast, not the currency devaluation.

  • A student mistakenly told me that she ate with shovel, and I teased and teased her. One dinnertime, She came into a restaurant that was near the school, saw me, and I could see that she didn't want to me to watch her eat.

  • It is always a struggle for me to get Tony to go to bed. Obsessed he is about Minecraft. One night, when he finally gave the Ipad to me and he went to bed, I said he was a good boy for listening to me. He replied by saying he was a bad boy.

  • Ever feeling like you are being a heel, and you are impotent to do anything about it?

  • Perverts, losers, dipsomaniacs and snake oil salesmen.

  • We had a speaking contest on a Saturday afternoon. There were about 25 contestants. The ones I saw, who were from two different levels, were surprisingly good to disappointingly bad. Some of the contestants who registered for the contest chickened out. One student, who had in the morning class, and couldn't keep up in the class, didn't show up in the afternoon for the contest.

  • Tony is giving me attitude, big-time. When we squabble, and I try to criticize and reason with him, he resorts to mimicry in response. When I say he is being selfish, he calls me selfish; when I say he is being dumb, he says I am dumb; and when I say I want him to be good, he says he wants me to be good. My idea of his being good involves him not playing the iPad so much; his idea of my being good involves me letting him play the iPad all the time.

  • Tony's biggest outrage was to walk into an Apple store and demand that another kid playing iPad, surrender the iPad because it had Minecraft on it and the other devices in the store did not. After I took him out the store because of his whining, Tony complained to me that that kid was being selfish. 

  • From the train, as it was crossing the Xibei canal, I saw two men in a rowboat wearing those distinctive wide-brimmed straw hats.

  • When I take Tony to the Metro Station every morning, I drive my e-bike through the Hui Shan Central Park. There is one point in the park where I have to avoid some old people doing morning calisthenics to music. They do their exercising on the pathway because it is beneath the cooling shade of trees.

  • I want to spit on drivers who don't yield to me as I attempt to cross Zhongshan Road at what is supposed to be a pedestrian crossing.

  • Am I boring or bored? Both, probably. Life in China has made me a talker but not much of a doer. 

  • I could also say life here has made me into a bystander. I don't fix anything.

  • Do I lack self-possession or I am too self-conscious to be a character? I want to be, but I don't know how to be without putting on an act. I want to be, but I am what I am. I want to be the me that I was supposed by me to be, but never was because the real me, the me without courage and imagination, kept getting in the way. This me, this meek me, had a way of asserting himself (or herself) so that I couldn't be the me I wanted to be. Oh! I blame it on the real me! That's my excuse.

  • Was I a victim of civilization? That is, I never thought of escaping because civilization did all it could to make me and the ones I was stuck with blind to the possibilities?

  • How to make this existence of mine tolerable? More importantly, how to make it have a point? There has to be a God. Humanism is not enough. Humanism is the state.

  • Two different ideas of what a barbarian is: 1) A barbarian is someone who chooses to live outside the framework of the state. 2) A barbarian is someone who acts atrociously. The first idea I get from reading a book entitled: The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. The book seems to be making a libertarian defense of people who choose to not live in the nation-state by stating that the term barbarian was used as a pejorative by statists against these people not wanting to live or be slaves in their states. The book makes me sympathetic to the barbarians by making them seem libertarian. The second idea comes from an article I read about the Benedict Option, entitled Barbarians at the Gates. The Benedict Option is an idea among modern Christians that they may have to retreat to small Christian communities in order to get away from what they see as the immoral modern secular culture. The problem these Christian retreats would have to face, says the article, is that barbarians are going to be knocking on its doors. And these barbarians are going want to the Christians to act in certain ways that are un-Christian and immoral... The barbarians of the first definition are anti-state, the barbarians of the second definition are anti-Christian. The barbarians of the first definition are antithetical to Christianity when it is part of the state. The barbarians of the second definition are part of the state and antithetical to Christianity. And yet the barbarians of the first definition, like the Christians dealing with the barbarians of the second definition, are antithetical to the state and being libertarian. How to reconcile this for someone who is sympathetic to the barbarians of the first definition and to Christianity like me? There is a paradox at play here is about all I can say. Or maybe communities are okay as long as they don't morph into secular states. [The author of the book said that the term barbarian was a relational term.] 

  • Tony was playing Minecraft on my Iphone so I missed a good opportunity to take a photo of a barge train on the Xibei Canal.

  • Riding on my e-bike, a little girl walking with her parents shouted that annoying term for foreigner that I heard almost every time I am in public: Waiguoren. So, I shouted Zhonguoren back at her.

  • The seat on my e-bike no longer is attached to the frame. It is merely a cover now.

  • I will be getting a new ironing board. The old one is warping and is becoming dis-attached from its metal folding frame....

  • And I got the ironing board, at Ikea, one Wednesday morning after dropping off Tony at his summer school. Since I didn't start my shift till 1:00 PM, I had plenty of time to go to Ikea which is far, as the crow flies, from Casa Kaulins. I had so much time, in fact, thatWednesday morning, that the train got me to the Hui Ju shopping complex and the Ikea 40 minutes before they were to open. I thought the place was open for business at 9:30, not 10:00 as it turned out. To while away the time I wandered aimlessly around the complex while listening to a Milton Rosenberg podcast about film noire. I eventually retreated to the shade of the Metro station, I had disembarked at, to take photos of trains leaving and entering the station. [Three more bullets to follow about getting the Ironing Board. I have numbered just in case, they aren't indented.]

  1. Now, I do my share of dopey things. I would even admit to the possibility that my portion of dopey things I have done is bigger than the portions of dopey things done by other persons. But I want to say is that when I wander aimlessly, I become dopey, even pretending for anyone who might observe me to maintain the ridiculous posture of wandering purposely. 

  2. Case in point, this Wednesday morning wandering made me feel overwhelmed on my trip to get the Ironing Board at Ikea. I first screwed up when I put my backpack in the locker as I would subsequently find out. I then felt confused about how it was that I would find the Ironing Board; Ikea being so huge. I went through the display area wondering where it could be. When I did find the ironing board on display, there were no boards for me to take to the registers to purchase. I continued through the path of the display area and the subsequent small items section thinking I would see the boards in another place. I didn't. I was just lucky that the person I found in the warehouse told me where the ironing boards were. I at least didn't screw up using the credit card to make the purchase as I am wont to do. I even didn't act so clumsy when having my obligatory Ikea hot dogs. But then I couldn't open the locker where I had put my backpack. I realized reading the instructions that I had forgotten to press the “*” key after I had entered my password. So, I had to get staff to help me open the locker. (I had this sort of thing happen to me once before at the Tesco near Casa Kaulins) They thought at first I was trying to put my ironing board in the locker. But once I explained to them what I had done, I got my bag and signed a form attesting it was mine. On my way back to school and before the start of my shift, I did two more dopey things. Getting off the line #2 train at San Yang Plaza, I went to exit from the wrong side of the train. And then at the Family Mart near the school, I was clumsy with my Ipod Touch. Fumbling around with two water bottles, a package of fruit and the Ipod, I suddenly had the Ipod fly out of my hands onto the floor. At least the Ipod stops podcasts from playing when the earphones are detached.

  3. I now [at this typing] wonder how I will be able to get the ironing board home from school. The problem is that I have the e-bike at the station. If I didn't have the e-bike there, getting the board home would be easy. I would just walk and carry it home. However taking it and the e-bike won't be so easy. I figure I will have to hold the board between my knees as I ride the bike home. Not an easy prospect, that is, if I do take the board home tonight. I am debating to take the board home tomorrow and use the shuttle bus to get to the metro station. [Later: Taking the board home with the e-bike wasn't as all as bad I imagined it would be. I was able to stand the board between my legs and rest it on one shoulder without slowing down my driving at all.]

  • There is a federal election in Canada which I haven't been following. I know the three party leaders are Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair. There is no way I would ever want this Trudeau to be PM unless he completely repudiates the legacy of his father. Justin hasn't done so. Mulcair is an NDPer. Nuff said about why I would not want him to be PM. So, I am stuck supporting Harper. Harper is no doubt a very intelligent man. Being intelligent in a left leaning country like Canada, he has to govern and to politic cynically if he is to maintain his power. So he disappoints Canadian conservatives, but what other choice do they have?

  • Tony is taking swimming class as the summer wanes. One evening, I came home and he was all excited to tell me how he was able to put his head under water and how that because he was wearing goggles, it was so interesting.

  • After school finishes, Tony wants nothing more than to sit in my office and play Minecraft on my Ipad.

  • Jenny phones to tell me that she has bought bagels. I hope these bagels are authentic. I have never known bagels to be available in China. Jenny says she got them from a place that says they do European style baking. [Ultimately, Jenny tried the bagels and said they weren't as good as the ones she had had in Canada.]

  • John Derbyshire is a Trump supporter. David Warren despises the Donald. Warren and Derbyshire are both writers I very much like reading, so these two viewpoints leave me conflicted as to what I think of the Donald. 

  • What do I think of Trump now? [I add “now” to the question because I see I have asked this question in an earlier bullet] I can understand how one can enjoy the trouble Trump is causing the Rino Squishes and career pols of the Republican party; but I can only exclaim: why does it have to be Trump who is the guy who is doing it!

  • To be this way: a useless man; a truly superfluous man; a man who is, in some cosmic sense, unemployed and relentlessly unemployable.  This kind of man was posited in a recent David Warren blog entry. Now this man is not a welfare dependent. He doesn't get a government cheque, and sit on the sofa all day watching television or surfing the internet. He is active but his activity is useless to the capitalist mindset. That is, it isn't profitable in the monetary sense, but instead has a cosmological significance. He does what is worth doing for its own sake. Though, I can't help but feel that becoming an English teacher has made me relentlessly unemployable if I went back to Canada, I can't say that I am a person whose activity has any cosmological significance. I am useless and nothing can be said for that uselessness.

  • I signed on for another year at the school.

  • I tried to make it a habit to visit the site: If you look the links on the side, you will see my two are top of the list.

  • August 20th was Chinese Lover's Day this year. Because the day is celebrated on the Chinese calendar, it can come suddenly upon an unaware Wuxi foreigner. I only figured it out after I espied, from my office perch, one and than another male carrying a bouquet of roses. As soon as I realized it was 7/7, I sent Jenny 250 rmb from my Wechat wallet. But she was not happy about this because 250 in Chinese means dumb and silly. So, I had to send her fifty more rmb.

  • Sesame Street is moving to HBO! HBO?!?! I can imagine what's going to happen. Ernie and Bert are going to be sitting in a bathtub together shaving each other's chests. Oscar won't be living by himself in a garbage can any longer. And Big Bird will be big because...

  • As the month of August wound down, I began asking students when they were heading back to school, and I got dates ranging from the August 24th to September 6th. Asking the students if they were looking forward to going back, I got some unexpected answers. Some actually said they were looking forward to it. Asking them why, they said they were tired of sitting around the house.

  • On the last day of his summer school, Tony told me he would miss it.

  • The last week of his summer school, Tony choose to go to McDonalds for hash browns. He had been eating cheesecake at 85 degree bakery.

  • I am re-reading my entries through the month instead of at the end.

  • I attended the graduation (?) ceremony of Tony's summer school. Tony did some performances, not very competently. He walked around confused during a play in which he had a role and for which all the players were looking at a screen for their lines.

  • Tony's birthday will be spent in the countryside and I haven't bought him a present. I will be recording thoughts on my devices while I am in the countryside and I will then put them in this blog entry.

  • I am wasting my time following US politics and yet I cannot turn away from it. 

  • I have started listening to the Mark Levin podcast again, after having given up on it, for two reasons. First, the presidential race seems so damn interesting and full of possibilities other than Hilary against some Rino Squish. Second, my cousin Pat, when I was in Winnipeg, told me how much he liked listening to Levin.

  • Sister lived exactly long enough for some to realize that when we try to hold on too tightly out of our own selfish desires, we risk even greater hurt or greater pain.  I read this quote in David Warren's blog and it has me thinking that I should give up on my blogging ambitions and just stop blogging.

  • I had a class with two female students who sat together and far away from me at the other end of the table. I made them sit apart from each other and close to me. “We want to sit together.” they told me. “No,” I said.

  • I very much love my Ikea Ironing Board. It is taller and more sturdily built than the cheap wooden piece of crap that Jenny had me buy seven years ago. [To my pleasant surprise, Jenny is using the board a lot herself.]

  • One of my colleagues has what I would term “anal telepathy,” as opposed to the mental kind. What does this mean? I giggle thinking of the possibilities.

  • I saw a foreigner who was ahead of me getting on an elevator that I was going to get on; and I decided to slow down and wait for the next elevator. I just didn't want to chat and I had a good idea what the foreigner was doing in Wuxi.

  • The Kaulins Family went to Beixin, Jenny's hometown, one weekend (Sunday and Monday). I make 16 bulleted entries about it:

  1. We took the bus there. And again, I loved taking the Jiangying Bridge which offered a great view of Yangtze River ship traffic. 

  2. For the first time, I was able to get Internet on the bus. I took advantage of this to post photos and video to my Wechat account and some of my blogs.

  3. We went on Tony's birthday and I am afraid it wasn't much of a birthday for Tony. We didn't buy him any birthday presents. I had assumed that the Relatives or in the in-laws had something planned for him, but there was nothing. It was just another visit to the in-laws compound. The in-laws and Jenny just sat around and we had meals at scheduled times. I took Tony to the local shops to get him a birthday toy. He choose a plastic toy machine-gun that made shooting noises when you pressed the trigger. The cost was 28 rmb. There was no birthday cake but Tony said he didn't want one.

  4. I later noticed that the toy gun had a red aiming light. I found this feature quite fun and thought of taking it to school where the red light feature would be great for playing pranks. I could use the light to have fun at other teacher's expense. Nothing would be funnier than to shine the red light on a teacher as he was teaching, except maybe shining it on a students notebook as he or she was looking at it.

  5. I passed the time by listening to podcasts and music, and reading, either on my Ipod or, if Tony would let, on my Ipad.

  6. Sunday afternoon, my father in-law drove Tony & me on his self-propelled wagon to a place where a friend of his could shorten the belt that Jenny had bought me for in Thailand and that I now needed to wear. If my father-in-law would let me drive that or find a bike I could use, I would be able to while my time away in Beixin quite agreeably.

  7. In the Sunday evening, after supper, I went for a walk through nearby fields and then down streets. I must have been quite the sight for locals, on bikes and cars and trucks, passing me. I had to fight self-consciousness anytime I passed a group of locals talking. Still, it was a good time for a walk. It was cool for a summer in Jiangsu, and the fields and shops I saw were interesting to look at. I took some photos which can you find in my wordpress blog (look there for Beixin, China Field).

  8. The fields were lush and green. Harvest coming soon, I thought.

  9. Thinking about it later, I saw that there were no empty storefronts to be seen anywhere in Beixin. Some that were open were being renovated, but unlike Wuxi where stimulus construction has dotted the area with lots and lots of empty buildings, especially storefronts, I don't recall seeing one empty storefront either in Beixin or when I was riding through nearby villages on the bus.

  10. I noticed a lot of dry corn kernels, the kind I would use to make popcorn, being laid on the ground and/or shifted by locals with this three foot wide round circular straw devices..

  11. Monday, I could hear rain pounding on the roof, and looking outside, I saw that it was as heavy as it sounded. Nothing for us to do but sit in the in-laws house. Jenny and Tony would stay an extra day, I found out, and so I was to take the bus back to Wuxi by myself.

  12. Tony said he didn't want me to leave and that he would miss me. But I as I quickly found out, he didn't want me to take the Ipad with me. Jenny offered him the following choice: he could go home with me, but I would leave the Ipad with her, or I could go home without him, but with the Ipad. He didn't answer the question, pounded his forehead, and said he wanted the choice that we weren't offering: to leave the Ipad with him. [I later phoned Tony from Wuxi and he said he didn't want to talk to me: so much for his missing his Dad!]

  13. The bus to Wuxi was to leave Beixin at 13:10. But it wasn't at the station and so I and the other Wuxi passengers had to take another bus out of Beixin which would then meet up later with the Wuxi bus. It was a good thing that Jenny was with me or I wouldn't have understood what was happening. I suppose this was done because there weren't enough people going to Wuxi to justify bring the bus all the way out there.

  14. On the bus ride back to Wuxi, I got a call from Jenny asking me if I had taken the charger plug and cord for her phone. After saying shit to myself, I checked my charger bag and saw that I had. I immediately was crestfallen and thought to engage in acts of self-punishment because of the agony I imagined that Jenny would go through not having a mobile phone to use. [It turned out that she was able to buy another cord and use her father's charger.]

  15. One thing I don't like about Beixin is how the big trucks barreling down its streets will blare their horns to get pedestrians and bicycles to scurry out of their way. My in-laws compound is actually next to the street and one of these trucks is but five to ten yards from their beds as it barrels through, its horns blaring like a liner leaving port.

  16. I didn't smoke at all when I was in Beixin as I am wont to do when I go there because my in-laws smoke and so I don't have to pay for cigarettes, but I resisted the small urge I had to do so. At school, I have stopped bumming cigarettes and the habit of not smoking maintained itself in Beixin.

  • Tony walked up to me one evening and told me that he wanted to watch the Ghostbusters movie. It was strange that he would do so for two reasons. The first was was because I had to wonder how he got it into his head to want to see a movie from the 1980s. It was also strange because I actually happened to be downloading the movie when he talked to me about it. Always responsive to movie recommendations, I got the idea to download the movie from an email newsletter from the Ricochet conservative website. The next evening after Tony's request, which was the evening before we went to Beixin, Tony and I together watched the movie. I am not sure if he understood all that was going on, but he told me afterwards that he liked the movie a lot, and in Beixin, he told me that he wanted to watch it again. [Tony also like the sequel which I downloaded later in August]

  • What did I think of Ghostbusters? I remember seeing the movie in the cinema when it came out in 1984. I particularly remembered the Staypuff Marshmallow Man because someone, I saw the film with, laughed his head off at that scene. It wasn't so funny when I saw it with Tony. However, the rest of the film I didn't recall and I will say that it had some funny moments and that it was particularly enjoyable for making the government bureaucrat from the EPA the bad and obtuse guy. As well, Bill Murray's enigmatic performance makes the film still watchable after all these years. I would have deleted the film from my computer if Tony hadn't wanted to watch it again.

  • On Monday while I was in Beixin, in Wuxi and in-between, there was a great stock market collapse. That it should be happening, as I said before, is no surprise to me. I have seen too many empty storefronts and buildings since 2008 be built. There would be no need in Wuxi for a subway if the powers that be didn't decide to try to spread the city out. [I made mention of the Great Fall of China to one of the students and they tried to correct me by saying it was happening all over the world.]

  • On the next Tuesday, I saw what I call a government bully boy pick-up at the Yanqiao Metro Station. It was stopped in the area where normally twenty pedicabs would be parked waiting to get fares from passengers who had gotten off the train. There were then only two pedicabs parked near the police pick-up. I saw the other pedicabs dropping off their passengers at a distance from the station, obviously to avoid dealing with the cops. As I entered the metro station, I saw that the drivers of the two pedicabs were the unlucky schmucks who happened to be there when the bully boys came a-calling.

  • Grandmother and child interactions that I saw one day: 1) On the train, a little girl ran exuberantly on the bus and was then roundly criticized by her grandmother (I assume). The grandma's tirade lasted a few minutes, and the end result was that the little girl got up and sat away from the old lady. The grandmother sat beside her again and again the girl sat away from her. Just then, a trio got on the train and sat between them. This sit-off continued as I got off the train. Tony sometimes pulls the defiance act on me after I carp at him. 2) Later, from my office perch which overlooks pedestrian traffic Zhongshan road, I happened to see a teenage boy holding an umbrella high in the air so that his grandmother (I assume) would be protected from the sun.

  • I was able to get photos of a barge train on the Xibei Canal while witnessing the little girl sit away from her grandmother. I will publish the best one in my wordpress photo blog.

  • Davilia Aphorism #1922:  The individual does not search for his identity except when he despairs of his quality.  I am thinking that applies to me somehow, but not exactly. I mean I have known through my wanderings that one cannot escape oneself and one is always taking one with oneself where ever one goes. I was searching, really I thought, for the right milieu. I can't say that I found this right milieu. I have instead retreated into myself and despaired of the quality of the people around me that I have become stuck among. But there is this suspicion that I should be despairing of my quality as well. Since I hit fifty, this suspicion has become a realization. So the last five words of the aphorism do apply to me.

  • I am a Canadian in China but the thought of my being a sort of representative of Canada in China is ridiculous. In Canada, I was never truly a Canadian. I never achieved any success there whether in a professional or social manner. I worked a lot of jobs that were low status and one of these jobs that I had for a long time, I hesitate to talk about with anyone to this day. (It was nothing sordid but it was a situation of a loser.) When it came to friendships and romance, I was without for a long time. I don't even want to tell Jenny about it.

  • So, I sometimes think F*** Canada! What did it ever do for me? But there is a photo of me taken in my mid-twenties that shows a scowling unattractive me that I look at now and think no wonder I failed so utterly.

  • School starting up in last August. One morning I was walking to school, and I saw hundreds of kids walking, as an organized group in double file, to the primary school that is near our school.

  • A student tells me he has a grandfather who refuses to use a phone and would rather write notes and letters to people in his circle. When I say phone, I don't mean mobile phone, I mean the old land line. Furthermore, his grandfather doesn't have a fridge or washing machine. When they try to teach him how to use a phone, he gets angry. David Warren would love it, and so do I. Reactionaries! You just gotta love them!

  • I read about Morrissey's criticism of Obama. His criticism is from a left wing perspective and so is utterly moonbat. And yet Morrissey is still a compelling pop star in a way... 

  • A student named Brandon told me that when he was born, the character for his given name was not on the computer of the birth certificate authorities so they told his mother to change his name which she did. However, his name's new character was obscure and so he was always having his name mispronounced.

  • One cheer for me! I never made a lot of money in this life and I may have been a loser, but I never became a drug addict, a rapist, a thief, a mountebank, an alcoholic, a bull-shitter, a victim or an atheist. And I threw off my stupid youthful socialist cloak and became a thoughtful reactionary. Furthermore, I got married and had a son.

  • Many of the students have gone on interesting summer trips. One student toured Europe. Another student went to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City. I asked the second student, who was wearing a Golden State Warriors cap, which of the three cities he liked the best, and he answered Salt Lake City. I can figure out why he didn't like LA but his reasons for preferring Salt Lake City to San Francisco were interesting. San Francisco was expensive and a little scary, he said, with too many poor people on the streets there, many of whom were black. Salt Lake City, on the other hand, was quiet and safe, and the family he stayed with was very nice to him.

  • When I get off the Metro train, I have a choice of taking the stairs, escalator or elevator to get to the exit. As most passengers, I choose between the escalator and the stairs. But I choose to take the escalators which puts me in a small minority which is sometimes so small that I am one against a hundred: I like the exercise I get taking the stairs and I also like to avoid the crowds and the feeling of being in a herd.

  • Playing Possum. To demonstrate this idiom to a student, I thought of the following example: when your math teacher walks into the class with homework for you, do you play possum?

  • Yes! I didn't have to teach the mopey girl for her last class! I should have told her that when she hears “timber” in BC, she is expected run under the falling tree.

  • On the last Speaker's Corner of the month, I reamed out two female students seated at the back for chatting while I was speaking. My outburst came so suddenly, that it surprised me and the students. And for a few minutes, I was shaking like a leaf trying to be calm. And when the shaking stopped and I was in control, I felt sheepish and exhilarated at the same time. I did what I had to do and yet I felt embarrassed that I had to do it. I imagine that these outbursts don't earn me any allies and add to a reputation I perhaps have for being cold and mean. [My reputation? I really don't know what it is. I can only surmise. But it does raise a question for me. Which is better? To be much discussed or not discussed at all by others when one is not around? From what I have seen, no one, who is absent, is discussed except in a negative manner.]

  • The Chinese Communists are having a big military parade in Beijing on September 3rd to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Japanese – Chinese war. They are billing the parade as a victory celebration, though no foreigner and many honest Chinese know that the war's end was not a victory, if it was a victory, by the Chinese Communists at all. I think the Japanese just up and left China after they surrendered to the Americans. I have come across news stories about the parade on the website of the English People's Daily but I haven't paid them much attention. To be honest, I only look at the site for its photos of comely young Chinese women and ignore the news stories which are all propaganda anyway. 

  • I only make mention of the parade in this blog because a student mentioned it in my Speaker's Corner when I asked what was in the news. The student told me that the Japanese had been invited but weren't attending the parade, and the Taiwanese were coming, but not with the full support of that island's population. The Taiwanese person who was coming was now a figure of great controversy on the island. I didn't say anything to the student in way of an opinion about what he had told me. China has been very provocative towards the Japanese and so it begs credulity for the Chinese to say that the parade is all about how hard it is to achieve peace. Till the Chinese Communists are at least honest and forthright to honor the victims of Mao's famines and Mao's Cultural Revolution, the Japanese should not attend parades put on by the Chicoms having to do with the end of World War Two.

  • The last evening of August, I took a plunge in the swimming complex near Xishan High School. There were two pools there: an indoor and an outdoor. I swam in the indoor pool because Tony was nearby having a swimming class, but I found it wasn't deep enough. In the deep end, I was able to stand at the bottom with my head above the water. So, I went to check the outdoor pool. I saw a 2.2 m sign and wanted to go check it out. But pool staff blocked me from going to the deep end. They told me I had to take a swimming test, which would cost 20 rmb, before I could go into it. I walked away muttering.

  • If you want to understand the attraction that many have for Donald Trump, you have to read Anne Coulter's Adios America. For Coulter, immigration is the issue that American conservatives must deal with now before they can even begin to deal with the other problems facing America. Illegal immigration that has taken place since 1986, says Coulter, is a result of the political class, whether Republican or Democrat, conspiring against average Americans who don't want it. For Democrats, illegal immigrants are future Democratic voters. For the Republican donor class, illegal immigrants are a source of cheap labour. The illegal immigrants are taking advantage of system and bringing in a culture that very much debases the culture that made America such a magnet for immigrants in the first place. Coulter makes a pretty damning case that every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Trump has been soft and dishonest about the immigration issue.

  • The last day of August, I took Tony to a birthday party that he was invited to at the Hui Shan Wanda McDonalds, I ate Teppanyaki, I got my haircut downtown, and I took Tony to the local public pool. The end result was that I was tired and sore.

  • This blog entry is too long. On my word processor, it is fills up 14 pages with a font that is size 12. I think from now on, I will publish entries no more than 4 pages long which means you may see me make more frequent entries.