Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wuxi Tony Canadian Odyssey #28


In this 2010 video, my late father drives Jenny, Tony & me on the "low road" between Shilo and Brandon, Manitoba.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

AKIC's May to Early June 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts.

[The Kaulins Family goes to Canada for three weeks (June 9 to June 29).  So I have made this entry to encompass not only the blog entries I made in May but the entries from my time in June before I went to Canada.]

  • May 1 was a public holiday.
  • I spent that day at a park near Casa Kaulins posing for photos with my family.  
  • There were a lot of people in the park that day and I found myself thinking that all those people had souls.  I then thought how that thought didn't really diminish the fact that they just seemed like a mass.
  • At the park, the sight of  a  youngish woman, who was standing beside her bag of  cheap plastic toys for sale, seemed so forlorn.
  • On May 2, I edited my April entry (my monthly entry previous to this one).
  • I have been doing more blogging at my WCE sites.  Double Saint Archduke Sir Harry Moore Emeritus has made a movie  for which he has been awarded the Nobel Prize!
  • Mr and Mrs Kaulins.  That's me and Jenny.  After 8 years of marriage, it still seems strange to me that this is so.
  • I buy a “I am your father” t-shirt at Uniqlo, a chain clothing store from Japan that is akin to Old Navy.  At Uniqlo there are always some interesting t-shirts for sale.  Last year, I could have bought t-shirts of the Clash and the Sex Pistols.  This year, you can chose from their extensive line of Star Wars t-shirts of which now Tony has one, I have one and my brother Ron will have one, when I meet up with him in Canada.
  • Twin students at our school, Iris and Emo, appeared to be reading a book in tandem.  That is the girls were both holding onto one  folio volume — one of the twins holding the left page, the other holding the right  –- and scanning together its text.
  • I went to Hen Long Mall and Hui Ju  Mall one day; and I couldn't help but notice that there were many, many empty store fronts.
  • My life is dull I will admit.  I can't find anything better to do on my days off with Tony than to take him to a mall.  This has got to stop.  It is so soul destroying.
  • Being stared at can cause me to swear at the locals, whether they be children or adults, who are doing the staring.
  • I took the Metro from the Civic Center to Yanqiao. About 21 stops!!
  • I sleep with Tony in Tony's bed after a winter of having him sleep with us. Slowly, it seems, he is realizing that it is good to have a private spot of one's own.(or so I thought) 
  • I eagerly await for the day when Tony kicks me out of his room. I'd rather be with Mommy if you know what I mean. (He in fact kicked himself out of his room.  Of this, I will say more anon.)
  • I got an email asking if I wanted to take part in an Expat in China interview podcast.  Part of me thinks the email was a joke so I won't answer it, but if I did and they were serious, I would decline the request.  I think my experience in China has been rather pathetic in a way and my attitude to other foreigners in Wuxi is very negative, so I would feel very uncomfortable doing such an interview.  I want to be the subject of a podcast only if there is something of which I could be proud and at ease to talk about.  And currently there is nothing.
  • How the last three American presidents could  inspire you: 3) President Bush was an alcoholic who cleaned up his act and became President.  So he should be a hero to alcoholics.  2)President Clinton was able to get away with being a pervert.  So he should be a hero to perverts.  1)President Obama overcame prejudice to become the President of the United States?  Okay.  I am going to have to work on why Obama is so inspiring to those who aren't blessed with victim or minority status.
  • Tony was excited because he had a new class at school. When he first tried to tell me this, I couldn't quite get what it was he was trying to tell me  because his pronunciation of “P.E” was slurred.  But he then told me how he liked to do “this” in class:  this being jumping rope which he happily acted out for me.
  • Katherine Hepburn spat in the face of the director as soon as he told her that her scenes in his  movie had been completed.  “This,” she said to him, was for some resentment she had towards him.  I will have to remember that.
  • Despite saying I couldn't stand to watch Major League Baseball anymore, I am reading a collection of essays written by Roger Angell about the major baseball seasons of 1972 to 1976.
  • I am without friends in Wuxi, I admit, but that is because the social options for me make this loneliness my best choice.  (And I say this while wholly admitting that I am not a great social option for anyone else.)
  • There was a power failure at school, but of course it came back when it was time for class. 
  • I am reading Paris 1919, a book about the peace conference held after the end of the Great War.  The author does a great job at outlining how the treaty affected each country.  I learned so much about the Balkans, Austro-Hungary and the Ottomans.
  • On a recommendation from a Gilbert Godfrey podcast, I downloaded the classic Western film My Darling Clementine.  I then put the film on my Ipad.  Ipad in hand, I went to the empty theater in my school to watch because one of the teachers was in such a bad way (drunk) that I couldn't  stand to even have to overhear him.
  • I finish watching My Darling Clementine and come out to see that it has begun to rain.  
  • I love my son.  I love my wife.  These two things are the most important facts of my earthly existence.  I will sacrifice other things for this because I must.
  • Summer is coming to Wuxi and I can see lots of female legs and thighs.
  • Here's another rant, from me, about Chinese drivers.  The rant occurs to me after yet another driver made a right turn on a red without yielding to a pedestrian who happened to be me:  Perhaps the Chinese should all go back to riding bicycles.  Barbarism at a slow speed is much safer than barbarism at high speed.
  • Is the problem with Chinese drivers due to the traits of the Chinese or of the car itself?  Chinese society has been demolished by the modernizing of Socialism and Capitalism.  No where is this exhibited better in the Chinese driver's inconsiderateness.  But then it is the nature of automobiles to make people solipsistic.  You can get people in Canada ranting like nothing else if you start talking about driving and traffic.  So perhaps, the devil matched cars and the  Chinese together.
  • You have to love God with your whole mind.  A jarring and deserved slap in my face statement from David Warren, my favorite blogger.  I don't spend enough time thinking of Him.
  • In the middle of the month, Tony was sleeping in his own bed in his own room and I still had to sleep with him.  I tried to get back to sleeping with Jenny in our bed in our room one night but Tony, in the middle of the night, came to sleep with us.  He said he was still scared to sleep by himself.
  • One of our teachers came to work drunk, again.  It was my good fortune that the day he did so, I had already chosen to retreat to a quiet room in the school and read a book as well as watch another movie on the iPad.
  • I was getting excited about my upcoming trip to Manitoba.
  • My wife, who controls the finances of the Chinese Family Kaulins tells me that we could get a car if we wanted to, but she and I don't, thank God.
  • If I drove in China, I would be hating the locals more than I do now.
  • Getting off the train one morning, I very nearly gave a righteous elbow to a young man who was boarding.  It seems that he was very eager to get a seat and and  so he rushed onto the train despite the fact that several passengers wanted to get off.  He in fact got in my way and instead of backing off and letting me get off the train, he tried to dodge around me.  I was so annoyed that I gave him a shoulder and brushed him with my elbow.  I then wished the elbow had been more vicious.
  • Is all this technology making the Chinese so inconsiderate?  Look at their behavior with cars and of course, you have to look at them staring at their mobile phones oblivious to all else.
  • How are you Andis? (Asked the teacher who was drunk.)  I say one word in response: Sober. (That's what I should have said.)
  • Reprobate.  That's a word that I should have been using to describe that person.  [I wish say this for the first time in this entry: so much reprobatity, no sanctity to be found anywhere in the Wuxi Expatdom.]
  • It is a hot day and the girl wears black clothes and complains about the heat.
  • Tony brings his boots with him to school one morning.  The forecast is for thunder showers.
  • I am living for a future, but not one where I have resolved my issues.  There is no point in resolving my issues if this life is all there is for me.
  • A story about Jack Benny.  It was said that Jack Benny was very gracious and patient with the many people he meet :  all of whom seemed to ask him the same questions over and over again  about his fictional persona and world.  One time, he and a companion were taking an elevator down from a high floor in a hotel.  Everyone who got on the elevator recognized him and would then ask him those kinds of questions.  Was he that cheap?  Did he underpay Rochester?  Did he have a man imprisoned in his vault deep below the earth's surface?  As the elevator finally emptied, he said to his companion:  “Sometime you just want to tell them to fuck off!”  I can say I know that feeling in China when I get treatment tantamount to someone running into a celebrity.
  • Despite my experience of celebrity, I am as far as a person can be from the well-connected of the world like the Clintons.  I have no connections, no close friends and no talents or abilities.  I just don't know how I do it.
  • What's so disappointing about my social life, is not so much that I don't have friends; it is that I have not meet anyone who comes close to having sanctity.  Everyone I get stuck meeting here is a person of the world: a collection of experiences and anecdotes without a soul. [I've started reading this book A Humane Economy by Wilhelm Röpke , an economist  that my favorite blogger David Warren wrote about recently.  Röpke  who wasn't a socialist or a Keynesian, was  a free marketer, up to a point.  Warren says  Röpke  basic point is that you can get too much of a good thing and that is what the free market does.   Röpke talks about the boredom of mass man cut off nature, his soul starved because he consumes too much.  Anyway, Röpke brought out another reason why I hate meeting foreigners.  They are the product of modern enmassment.]
  • The Chinese government is cracking down on strip tease shows at funerals.  I asked my wife Jenny if there were such shows at funerals in her home town.  She said that at a recent funeral, of an uncle that she attended, there was a performance of Chinese opera.
  • Jenny tells me that we, that be her and I,  have a reputation for cheapness.  What a slap in the face this is because there is no denying it! 
  • It is the slaps in the face that are deserved that really hurt.  I would rather be slapped undeservedly.
  • Bad weather on my days off keeps me in the house.  So, I watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones and read Paris 1919 to pass the time.
  • I see a foreigner at the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza and my first instinct is to look away.
  • There are many disagreeable people in the world and I am one of them.  I sometimes think I am all of them.
  • A student tells me that her baby was crying on the plane, annoying all the other passengers and so she was moved by the staff into the business class section.  Apparently, no seats had been sold in that section.
  • Sure, I hate, but I hate passively.  The problem is that I also love passively.
  • In a previous entry, I had prematurely stated that the 637 route had been changed because of lack of ridership.  What happened was that  that one evening, the buses weren't running normally but the next day they were...  Well, it seems that this change that I had foreseen has actually come about and is permanent.  Since mid-May, it has to be that when I take the train home in the evening, I have no choice but to walk home unless I want to wait twenty five minutes for the next bus to leave. It used to be that I only had to wait five.
  • I was quite taken with a documentary about Vivian Maier that I had downloaded and watched.  Maier was this exceedingly marginal figure who died and was then discovered to have been a very talented photographer.  I was inspired to take more photos for AKIC Wordpress.  Alas, I don't have the sort of camera she has.  It is hard to take street photos with an iPhone.
  • On the train, I looked up to see a young man wearing a three colored Montreal Expos cap.  I doubt if he would have understood what a Montreal Expo was.  I wish I could have taken a Vivian Maier style photo of this.
  • Since seeing that Vivian Maier documentary, I have noticed there are many opportunities for good street photography in Wuxi.  Of course, I am limited by the camera I have and my nerves to just directly point my camera at someone.
  • Temperatures were high enough that I could wear short sleeves on my way to work.
  • One Monday, the three of us, that being the Kaulins Family, went to Taixing, about an hour by car from Wuxi.  We had to pay sympathy to a relative who had spent some time in the hospital.   The day was uneventful except for my having eaten frog's legs for the first time.  They taste like chicken.   This Monday was a day to to observe a lot as we took the bus to Taixing and then got a return ride in a car back to Wuxi.  I saw never ending people and buildings.
  • The Tuesday following the Monday, I went to the Taihu New City area to teach a company class.  I wanted to walk through the Coastal City mall but it was too big for me to look at in the five minutes fate had given me to survey its premises.  The whole area seems a colossal example of overbuilding. {I would go later with Tony.]
  • Wuxi, way back when I've been told, was a walled city.  Now, that wall has been completely taken down and any parts purporting to be of the wall are merely restorations.  One student told me that the wall may have been knocked down during the Cultural revolution though he couldn't say for sure.
  • But there can be no doubt that the Cultural Revolution destroyed a lot of old things in China and anything purporting to be an historical site in China is probably a fake rebuild.
  • Tony says “Oh! My Goodness!” a lot.  He picked up this expression from a Minecraft Youtube channel where the British host always says that phrase.
  • I suffered from a bad cold in late May.  It came with a cough that I would say was “high up in the throat” making me feel at times like I am on the verge of choking.
  • A student was going on and on about the Japanese and their not apologizing for what they did in World War Two.  The fact of the matter is that the Japanese have apologized on numerous occasions. To be fair though,  there is something to the Chinese complaint that many Japanese have a amnesia about the time.  But you have to couple this amnesia with the fact that the Japanese are a very civilized people these days — much more civilized that the Chinese — and there is no danger of a return of that virulent militarism. The Chinese government harps on the Japanese and World War Two because they want their population to forget the more recent horrors that they inflicted on their own people.  In fact if the Japanese prostrated themselves every day to apologize for what they did in World War Two, it wouldn't be enough for the Chinese Communists who need the experience of World War Two as a  way of not having to apologize for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Maybe the Chinese Communists should set an example of how to apologize by apologizing to their people and giving up power.
  • Another issue that the students tell me about concerning Japan is that there is this Shrine that  the Japanese go to to honor the soldiers of World War Two.  Well, if this is the case, then why do the Chinese TV people seemed compelled to show these propagandist World War Two recreations where Chinese – Chinese Communists actually -- are shown to offer heroic and decisive resistance to Japanese forces?  I happened to catch one of these shows where after wiping out a Japanese battalion, a closeup shot of a Chinese foot stomping on a Japanese flag was shown.  If the Chinese Communists are truly interested in peace then perhaps such programs should not be shown either.  
  • Communist resistance to the Japanese, I have heard, is a myth.  Mao stood aside and let the KMT get bloodied by the Japanese.
  • A Def Leopard T-Shirt.  Riding the shuttle bus past a kindergarten one morning, I saw that the foreign teacher, who was out front greeting arriving children, was wearing a Def Leopard T-Shirt.  Interesting it was for me and it lead me to many speculations.  None of which I will enter here.  But I will say this about Def Leopard.  They had a good first album with some great songs but then I found their later efforts to be dull.
  • A Chinese study project for myself:  learn the Chinese National Anthem.  I do know one refrain from the song by hear already: 起来!起来! 起来!Arise!  Arise!  Arise!
  • One thing I find funny about the anthem's lyrics is this urging to build a new Great Wall. (筑成我们新的长城)There was no Internet when the song was written so how could they have known to put that bit in the anthem? (Or was it added later, 1984 style?)
  • Jenny says that I snore very loudly.  In fact she complained to me after a night in which I had slept  by myself in Tony's bed in another bedroom.  
  • By the end of May, Tony was sleeping with Mom in the big bedroom and I was sleeping by myself in the little bedroom.  Tony has dashed my hopes that I had had earlier in the month and earlier in this blog entry .
  • Tom, the student I can have a good conversation with, was telling how when he was young, he suffered from hunger.  Thirty years ago this was and so then, he and his young buddies would pry open a food warehouse door (that was then in the area near the three world department store) to steal bags of potato chips.
  • Tom also explained the admiration I had witnessed for Chairman Mao in the countryside where images of him could be seen in prominent display areas of a few private residences I had chance to enter.  Some people, despite the bad things Mao did, did like the fact of everyone being equal and no one having more than anyone else and didn’t so much mind the poverty and shared misery.
  • And speaking of chances, I had a chance on the last Saturday evening of May to go to Wuxi's Nanchang Jie Bar Street.  I very much enjoyed walking the area before having to join up with colleagues at a pub.  During these perambulations, I noticed two things:  1) That just away from the retail portion of the area, there were nauseating sights to smell and look at: abandoned buildings filled with trash.  So, Nanchang Jie Bar Street basically runs through a dump.  2)An area of residences near Nanchang Jie was enjoyable to walk through.  I saw a lot of those sights one associates with older China:  the compact neighborhoods where people don’t live behind locked doors but on the sidewalks and the doorways.  Where in Canada would you see an old woman eating at a front door?
  • On the last Sunday of May, I took Tony to the Coastal City Mall near the New Wuxi Civic Center.  It was big , had many stores, was clean and was ominously under-utilized, but I decided to not invite Jenny to join us. I instead left the mall to join up with her because that mall, even with its vast size had nothing special in it for I to get her to take such a long trip on the subway.
  • I ran into some South Africans near the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza.  They asked me some places that they could visit in the area and I had to admit that I was stumped.  It took me a minute to think of the Wu Culture Park and it turned out that they had already seen it.  And so there wasn't much else that I could think to suggest other than some parks down Hui Shan Da Dao  way.  For me the Hui Shan area is a place to move to and wander around because there are interesting things for a Westerner with an exploring urge to see.  It’s just that there’s no place I could tell a person or tourist passing through to visit.
  • I don't go to Expat pubs in Wuxi because I am living my life in Wuxi.  And because I live in Wuxi, I don't normally cross paths with tourists and so have nothing to tell them about where to go in the area.
  • One thing about my isolation is that I avoid questions.  Talking to the South African made me realize that there a lot of things about myself that I couldn’t explain.  I hate been confronted about myself because I am such a mystery and am so inexplicable to even myself.
  • Again I say that I would like to meet people who have the quality of sanctity.  I so hate meeting foreigners because ultimately they have a very disappointing lack of it.  They are materialist and full of experiences, but soulless.
  • I am going to publish this entry on the day before I leave for Canada.  My time in Canada will be an entry all of its own.
  • So, June 2, it rained heavily in Wuxi.  Even though it wasn't windy, the rain was heavy enough to soak even the person who had an umbrella.  In the evening, I was hoping that the rain would subside by the time I was to go home, but it got worse.  As I arrived at the Yanqiao Metro Station, the rain was at its worst.  The wind had picked up and so one was greeted with a blast of rain as soon as one got off the train and onto the platform.  The rain was so heavy that I had to retreat against the wall of the bus shelter to minimize my exposure to it.  And I stood at the bus shelter for over 15 minutes.  The rain was too heavy to walk in with a backpack containing electronic equipment.
  • If I didn't have all that electronic equipment (one  Ipod, one  Ipad and one Iphone), I would have walked home.  It was a Singing in the Rain kind of rain that I could have sung and danced in and it wasn't that cold.
  • In the week before my flight to Canada, I sent out some emails to some people there to let them know I was coming.
  • One thing I would like to do this Canada trip (my third since becoming AKIC) is take Jenny and Tony to the Peace Gardens, south of Brandon on the U.S. Border, so they can see the USA for the first time.
  • I read a Chinese Science Fiction novel, the Three Body Problem.  The book was as good as Science Fiction books can go, but I found it a little too much when the author said that Science Fiction had more to say about the human condition than ordinary literature and religion...
  • I see a person by Zhongshan Road with a t-shirt bearing a bad word that starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet.  On the shirt, the word was used multiple times in expressions telling everyone in the world, including the t-shirt wearer, that they should perform some unnatural act.  I then wondered what I would do if I had a student come into class wearing that t-shirt.  Hopefully, I thought, I would have the gumption to either kick the student out of a group class or refuse to teach him one-on-one.
  • The redoubtable Edith will leave the school.  I learned on June 2 that she found another job.  HyLite's loss, is New Oriental's gain.  It could be said that she was the most attractive girl that ever worked here.  You can see her on my Youtube channel.
  • June 4, I arrive at school and one of the Chinese workers ask if I had money stolen.  I didn't and I asked the co-worker for details of the theft but she didn't provide many details.
  • On the night of June 3-4, I was able to get Tony to sleep in his own bed.  To get this to happen I had to get him in trouble with Ma.
  • On the morning of June 4,  Tony said “Happy, happy, joy, joy” with a sinister smile on his face. He didn't tell me where he picked up this expression, but the chances are he picked it up on the Internet.
  • Another favorite expression of Tony's:  “I'm going to kick your ass!”
  • I see a dog on the subway.  It was accompanied by two police officers and was wearing a vest that said, in English, “police dog” which was a good thing because it wasn't a breed of dog that I would have thought was used for police work.  Not knowing much about dogs, and being overwhelmed by the listings of dog breeds on the Internet, I would say the dog was some kind of hound or perhaps the Australian Shepherd.  The Ozzie Shepherd was near the top of the list of dog breeds in the Wikipedia article that I gave up scanning all the way through.  The police dog had long ears and definitely wasn't a German Shepherd or a Poodle.
  • Less than a week before my Canada trip, I am no longer excited to go, but full of dread.  I have a lot of idea for things to do but the grim facts of my past existence in Canada and my mother living a widow's life will damper it.
  • Nonetheless, onward to Canada!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

AKIC's April 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts.


  • I didn't realize it was April Fool's Day till it was too late. I was working that day and I could have used it as a subject of conversation at school. I suppose that I was the fool.
  • At the beginning of April, I was following closely the Winnipeg Jets results as they were attempting to make the playoffs. As it was, they had the final playoff spot but only barely.
  • Temperatures shot up to the thirties (that's in Celsius) on the first Thursday of April.
  • I finished reading a Jeeves and Wooster novel.
  • I caught what I liked to call the 8:05 637 and was surprised to see the bus fill to SRO. The majority of times I have taken the 637, I have been the only passenger.
  • I get these emails updates from a blogger named Lloyd Lofthouse who writes about China. It seems he really hates America more than he loves China and that he is an apologist for the Chicom regime. In one entry, he suggested that the CIA had stirred up the students in Tiananmen Square in 1989....
  • I was bragging to a student that I always got a seat when taking the bus, and so she asked me if this was because people were yielding them to me on account of my being old. Ignoring the insult, which I took in very good stride actually, I told her that I always gave myself plenty of time to wait for a bus with available seats, even letting several buses I could take pass by because they had no seats.
  • Reading on the bus was a great thing, I said, and the student agreed. You can't read in a car if you are driving.
  • The day after we had a high of 31 degrees Celsius, the temperature plummeted to a high of sixteen.
  • The Kaulins family may soon be getting a new e-bike. The e-bike we have had since 2008 has so fallen apart – it's plastic body has been held together with cheap tape – that Jenny has finally bowed to my demands that we get a new one. The final straw was the breaking of the latch on the seat. The seat covers a storage area where we keep the charger and extension cord. The latch became out of whack over the years so that locking the seat required us to slam it down. This slamming eventually caused the latch to break in April. No longer latched in place the seat was sliding forward so that the hinge on the other end cracked and the seat now is out of place and very uncomfortable to sit upon. It isn't worth it to fix it, the repairman told Jenny. [We will get the new e-bike after we come back from our June trip to Canada.]
  • “What did you do this morning?” I asked a student. She told me she forgot.
  • I published a picture of a braying donkey on my WeChat App. It was very symbolic. My way of responding to an outrage. I don't know if anyone made the connection. Probably not.
  • All I can do in China is try to improve the level of English. I can't do much about its civilization because the one I come from gets more and more not worth mentioning or defending.
  • As the train was approaching Nanchang Temple station one morning, I got up from my seat and stood next to the door so I could ready myself to exit. And as I was looking out the window, I felt something brush against my knee. I looked down to see that a little toddler had cut in front of me. Perhaps the Chinese are born that way, I thought to myself. The child was accompanied by a man who I presume was his grandparent. Following the child, the old man got up from his seat and stood beside me and laughed sheepishly as I raised my glance upward from his grandchild, who was eager for the door to open, to him.
  • Do I hate Gays? To answer this question I would first have to say that I object to the use of the word gay in the question. Let's try to use that word in the old way. So instead of the word gay in the question, let's use the word homosexual. Now I will answer the properly formed question: Do I hate homosexuals? No. I hate their sin. And to say I hate them would be to say I hate myself because I am a sinner as well. I sin in different ways. And much as I disappoint myself because of this, I don't hate myself.
  • To disapprove does not mean to cast stones. That is, disapproving is not stone throwing.
  • Walking home one evening, I saw some sights that would seem strange in Canada. I first saw a man, wearing a housecoat and walking his dog. I then saw that a couple of men had set a fire on a street corner. I have seen the locals wear pajamas on public streets, so the housecoat wasn't a complete surprise although it was a first because it was a housecoat. The fire on the street corner was not a first either, but seemed to fall into the pattern I have noticed of things happening in pairs for me.
  • The last student I taught before the Easter/Qing Ming Weekend was mopey. She was determined to tell me that she didn't like anything and all that she wanted to do on the Qing Ming weekend was sit in a chair and be miserable. So, I attempted to teach her the word “mope.”
  • I never know how to take students who get in that I-don't-like-anything mood. Other then to run out the clock with them and at least get them to converse in English, there isn't much that I think can do. People who are determined to mope, are very imperious to reason and any attempt I would make to cheer them up.
  • This particular student was one whom I wrote about in a previous monthly entry. I mentioned that in a previous class, she told me that she wanted to be a doctor, following in the foot steps of her father. She then didn't know any of the vocabulary for that class's topic which was about going to the doctor's, and so I had to make her repeat the class. Despite her dourness in the Easter weekend class, I didn't fail her because, unlike the previous class, she knew the required vocabulary.
  • To make students happy is not my priority. My job is to make them improve their English.
  • One student was mopey; another I had to deal with was fidgety.
  • In a class about movies, I had one of the students say I was old because I told them I loved westerns and musicals. I then read Taki, in a recent article, say that he had his son cover his ears when he tried to play a Fred Astaire recording for him. Better to be on the same page with Taki than with anyone under the age of 35.
  • I went in early to the Hui Shan Wanda Starbucks one morning. There was no one there, I had a coupon for a free coffee and the worker told me that my son was very cute. I thought this was wonderful.
  • On Easter weekend, I stayed in the apartment. The weather was horrible: rain, sometimes heavy.
  • News that one of my aunts was moving and selling her old house in Winnipeg so she could move to an apartment near her daughter in Flin Flon (an eight hour drive away) depressed me. Back in the 1970s, Winnipeg seemed like such an attractive place to me because there were so many relatives there. Now, they are dying off and their children have moved to more interesting climes.
  • Tony told me that he wanted to do some trainspotting on a weekend – something we hadn't done in a while. I was glad to hear him voice this desire because it sure beat hearing him beg to play with the Ipad.
  • Scientism: the belief in the redemption of man through science. Hat tip to David Warren.
  • I saw this old woman, hobbling very slowly down the bike path alongside Zhongshan Road. She was walking with the aid of a cane – the kind with four short legs on the bottom – in one hand and a hip-high crutch in the other. She moved so pathetically slow that I had to wonder if she had any relatives to help her, and then I suddenly felt shame as I thought of my mother living by herself in Brandon, Canada. The old woman was going to cross Zhongshan Road at a crossing, near my school, that I was about to take myself. I got to the crossing just a little ahead of her and crossed very quickly and continued on my way to school, all the while wondering how the woman was going to be able to cross the road. In China, cars won't yield to pedestrians unless the pedestrians can get to the open space first, and so it a contest to see who can get through the intersection first. An old woman walking a snail's pace will have a hard time trying to cross a road where drivers are hell bent on not slowing down. I hurriedly entered my school and climbed the stairs to get to the reception area where I could then go to a nearby window to watch the old woman negotiate the crossing. I quickly realized that she wasn't so helpless and was actually a veteran at judging when to cross the street. I saw that she let some cars pass and then proceeded to cross the road seamlessly. A few cars swerved around her and I thought what bastards the drivers were for not yielding. But as she proceeded, cars and buses did come to a stop and she crossed safely.
  • I watched two movie musicals during the Easter weekend: South Pacific and Kismet. I enjoyed them both but alas, I had nobody I can talk about them. Are there some possible rare readers who may have similar tastes to me? No one in Wuxi whether among the teachers, the students or my family would appreciate my love for these kind of movies. If there is anyone, please email me!
  • I remember that, when I was a child and people owned vinyl records, my father had the soundtrack record album for South Pacific. I understand why people of his generation would have enjoyed these movies. What can be better than humming or singing a tune from a movie you just watched? What I don't understand now is why people in this day and age, with rare exceptions, don't enjoy it.
  • The other musical I watched, Kismet portrayed Muslims in a friendly light. While the overlords in Arabia are cruel, the simple folk have a genuine piety. Perhaps that is the way Muslims are today. It seems that it is the ones with the means to travel who cause the trouble. Anyway, Howard Keel, who was the star of the movie, was a genuine movie star. How is it that I hadn't heard of him before?
  • I am reading this book Sapiens, a history of homo sapiens. An interesting book that both David Warren and Jonah Goldberg mentioned this very month. The author asserts that the agricultural revolution was a big mistake. Instead of bringing humans civilization, the revolution instead, says the author, brought drudgery, disease, rapid population increases, and genocide and torture for many other species. Instead of making us free, agriculture enslaved many. The ideal life for humans, suggested the author, was that of the forager who in fact had shorter work hours and more leisure time.
  • Recently, I have eschewed taking the shuttle bus when I go home from work in the evenings. I have discovered that taking the shuttle bus only gets me home five minutes faster than if I walk. So I might as well save a little money and get some exercise. But walking home in the evening, I do feel the tyranny of the motor car. With so many Chinese now owning cars, I find there is little space along the path I take home for pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians are the most human of people on the pathways and roadways of modern civilization. Pedestrians truly have the human perspective on things. And as a proud pedestrian, I have to say that the world created by technology is inhuman. Freedom is an open plain, not a pathway overloaded with parked automobiles.
  • No one can accuse me of heaping praise on Chinese drivers. But if they tried, it would be to accuse me of lying, for Chinese drivers don't deserve praise.
  • One sunny morning, I looked out my apartment bedroom window at the road below and saw a car being passed by two cars, one on its driver's side and one on its passenger side. The road that I can see from our third floor apartment is a two laner. That is, it has a lane for traffic going one way and a lane for traffic going the other. The road also has a width of space for bicycles between the lanes and the sidewalk. This bicycle path is often used as a passing lane by automobiles. The car I saw passing on the passenger side by using the bicycle lane was probably doing about 70 km/h. The vehicle passing on the more conventional driver side was doing about the same speed but was about half a car length ahead of the passenger side vehicle. Traffic coming from the other way forced the driver side passing vehicle to accelerate to get back into the proper lane. The vehicle passing on the passenger side merged in behind it, but just barely.
  • I propose to revolutionize eating. I say we eat lunch in the mornings, dinner at lunchtime and have a nice breakfast for our evening meal. And instead of sticking food in our mouths, I say we eat it by trying to stick it in other places in our bodies.
  • One Friday afternoon, I took the train from school to a Burger King. Not having a seat, I had to read my Ipad standing up (a minor point, probably not even worth mentioning). One stop prior to when I was to get off, the train doors open, I heard some shouting and thought some people were arguing on the platform. But at the next stop I got off and made my way to the stairs when I saw that the shouting I had heard had come from on the train. There was a middle aged woman arguing with an elderly couple. I saw the woman, who stayed on the train, hiss and swear (shus-a-shus-something) at the old couple as they were getting off. The couple stood on the platform close to the door screaming some epithets at the lady while pointing their fingers at her. (Locals point their fingers in a stabbing gesture at people they are quarreling with) The closing of the train doors did not stop the mutual glaring and the couple only turned their attention away from the woman when the train pulled away. I wondered what they were fighting about.
  • And what was the swear word the woman was using? I have heard my wife say it when someone angered her. The girls at work don't understand my attempt at imitating the sound I heard the woman make. The locals can't even to begin to imagine to guess what I am getting at unless I sound a word exactly in the proper tone. The proper syllable said with the wrong tone will not be comprehended so there doesn't seem to be any hope for trying to approximate a syllable even if I try to tell them the context in which I heard it.
  • One Friday night, I decided to walk home in the dark from the metro station. Along the way, I saw a man practicing Tai Chi on a bike path. A little later, I saw a young man standing by himself near a fence blocking access to an apartment community. Before I could wonder what he was doing, I saw him perform a handstand and lean his up-stretched legs against the fence.
  • A taxi driver says that the Wuxi City government is bankrupt to the tune of twenty billion yuan. The reasons? Corruption and the subway system.
  • Out of the blue, Tony told me that he wanted to take the train to Shanghai to go to the train museum which we had gone to one or two years previously.  It was a great idea.  Unfortunately, it was not something that we could have done on an impulse.  I did try to take Tony to the Wuxi East Railway Station but it only served to raise his hopes so much that when I told him that we didn't have tickets to go to Shanghai, he got really upset.

  • So upset was he that I wanted to placate him by buying him a toy that would have raised budgetary concerns from Jenny, but Tony had his mind so set on going to the Shanghai Train Museum that even going to a toy store, with the possibility of buying a toy he wanted , could not raise his spirits.  He said "no!" to toy after toy after that I wanted to buy him.
  • It turned out that the toy he wanted to buy, a Takara Tomy Plarail train, could not be found in Wuxi Stores.  A few years ago, it looked like Tomy Plarail (a Japanese brand) had abandoned the Chinese market.  The range of products available in the stores became limited and it was no longer possible to find accessories in the stores.  They can be found on Taobao, the popular Chinese Internet site, and so Tony has his mind set on always visiting Taobao and looking for the trains he is now in the mood to buy.
  • The Wuxi East Railway Station had a White Elephant look about it.  The people whose idea it was to build the place hoped that they could create an area surrounding the station that was as busy as the squares around the central train stations of Wuxi, Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.  Instead, they seem to have added to Wuxi's glut of shopping malls.
  • The one interesting aspect of the station -- besides its vast emptiness -- was a building of glass and stairs that was meant to be an observation deck.  I wish all train stations had such buildings.
  • Monday is my day off.  When I am in Casa Kaulins during the daytime, it is quiet and Tony is at school.  One Monday morning, I was tidying up his toys which he is always leaving on the floor in the living room.  Bending down to put the toys in order (he had his toy fire and emergency vehicles parked almost in a neat row), I became emotional.  In the past, there was a moment when I had my toys in a house.  Lord knows what became of the toys or of the house.  But that was a moment in time, a fleeting one.  This moment with Tony's toys and this time when is Tony is a young boy full of innocent desires and amusements will be gone too I reflected.  This is a moment I would like to freeze.  
  • And I harken back to a moment that I can remember in December 1971.  My family was living in a PMQ in Valcartier, Quebec.  I was looking out the window at the snow in the courtyard of the apartment complex in which we were living and I said to myself to not forget this moment.  That moment has stuck with me.  I have tried to get other moments in time to stick in me but maybe because that was the original one – that is the first time I thought to freeze a moment in time, – that it has stuck.  In the mid 1970s, I would write the day's date on a piece of paper and thought to save them forever.  The scraps were discarded.  
  • I find it hard to believe that the time in which I was living was longer ago than the events which had formed my consciousness were from when I was young.  [Hitler died 19 years before my birth.  The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series over twenty years ago!]
  • I saw a guy who looked like Deng Xiao Ping.  He was short and wore Deng style clothes.  Sights like this are why I came to China.
  • At the Hui Shan Wanda Cinema, I saw a film in the 3D IMAX format for the first time. The movie, Fast and Furious Seven, was silly though full of great technical effects. There were cars flying in the air at great heights, cars on parachutes just happening to land on roads instead of in nearby forests, and cars rolling down mountain slopes without injuring their occupants seriously. The format for viewing the film didn't redeem it in my eyes. The 3D was annoying. The IMAX screen on which I watched the film was not as big as I had expected.
  • There weren't any characters in the F&F movie who were old. Kurt Russell, the oldest actor in the movie was acting young wearing an expensive suit, his hair greased back.
  • The Winnipeg Jets made the NHL playoffs. Hurrah!!!
  • Waiting for the 637 Shuttle Bus one morning, I saw a car weaving and swerving in traffic, driving very aggressively. I wouldn't have mentioned this but for the fact that the driver's car had mouth with sharp teeth decals on its doors. The decals certainly reflected his driving style.
  • What I would like to see more of on cars would be decals of pricks with arrows pointing toward the driver's seat.
  • Questioner: “How are you doing, Andis?” Andis: “Oh. I am still a boring white guy Canadian.”
  • I am getting old. I feel sore in the joints at times. As well, I feel chest pains.
  • I couldn't go back to Canada and do my old jobs because of my declining physical state.
  • I have to confess that I actually worked in Canada.
  • Three times I heard about a foreigner who peed on a bus somewhere in China. First it was from my wife, then from a student, and then from a teacher who read about it on the Internet. We all had to wonder if we knew the foreigner personally. Many foreigners who come to China are barbaric yahoos. And so every foreigner knew a possible suspect who could have been the subject of the story that was widely circulated in China.
  • A student tells me she doesn't like her job.
  • Another student tells me she doesn't like her female boss. “She is fifty and she is in the time of her life where she isn't happy,” said the student.
  • I asked a student to tell me which country he thought was China's best friend in the world. He told me Pakistan and I was initially surprised. But thinking about it, I realized there could be a case for it. China and Pakistan have never had a war against each other. And during China's war with India, Pakistan was a Chinese ally. (The student mentioned Pakistan because there had been news of President Xi paying the country a visit and giving them money.)
  • For the second straight weekend, I took Tony to a toy store and then left it without having bought him a toy. He had his heart set on TOMY Plarail trains which are no longer available in stores in China.
  • I was able to get the four leaked episodes (numbers one to four) of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. One student said she envied me when I mentioned this to her. But I told it was easy for me to get them.
  • Jenny is going to re-watch the first four seasons of Game of Thrones because she wants to keep the plot lines straight and she wants to better understand what the characters with their strangely accented English are saying.
  • I also watched the entire second season of Broadchurch. Jenny wondered, as I did, how there could be a second season. Didn't they find the killer in the first season? Turned out that the case had to go to trial...
  • Was it worth it for the makers of Broadchurch to have made the second season? I will say yes if only because the first season was so good that we wanted to be with the characters some more.
  • I watched the Serpico. Serpico should have been called Serpicool.
  • I just found out that the Ducks beat the Jets in OT. Shite!!
  • Tuesday morning, about 10 o'clock, I was standing at the 637 shuttle bus stop that is near Casa Kaulins. I saw, at vehicle entrance lane to, what I assume is, the Hui Shan District Police Station compound, a man staging a sit-in protest. Vehicles attempting to enter the District compound ended up backing up and entering the compound through the exit lane. The security guards were talking to the man, obviously wanting him to move, but the man then defiantly put his hands behind his head and laid down on the pavement. He was obviously aggrieved by something.
  • It was not the first time for me to see a protest at one of the many government buildings near Casa Kaulins. This Tuesday morning, I stood close enough to have taken a photo but was shy to openly do so. When the security guards looked the other way, I did try and quickly pointed my phone camera at the scene but that photo didn't turn out so well.
  • Later, after having seen the sit-in protester and then having made my way to downtown, I was crossing Zhongshan Road at the crosswalk near our school. I was able to get one vehicle to yield to me but another car, silver in colour, didn't and because it came so close to me, I got riled and decided to pound its back trunk with my fist. It was enough to startle the driver and I saw him slow down for an instance after he had passed me. “What the heck was that noise?” he must have thought.
  • I did a Speaker's Corner about old age. I got a good laugh whenever students prefaced their answers to my questions using "Depends." None of them knew that Depends was the brand name for adult diapers in North America: neither did many of my non North American colleagues.
  • The light turning green at a busy intersection leads to a competition for space between cars moving in opposite directions. I have seen not one, but two or more cars try to turn quickly in front of approaching cars and then narrowly dodge pedestrians (like me) who are trying to get through the intersection as well.
  • What to do about these screwed-up countries flooding their neighbors with their refugees? How about, colonizing them? If these people from screwed-up countries want to go to places that are administered by Americans or Europeans, wouldn't it be better, for them and for the established residents of the countries they want to move to, if the administrators – that is colonial administrators came to fix up the countries that are screwed up and fixed them? Places like Mexico, Libya, Haiti and Cuba maybe need to be looked after by people who know what they are doing.
  • Some of the goals I have seen scored in the current NHL playoffs are not very scintillating. Frequently they are the result of pucks, shot from the point, that manage to find their way in the net because of a broken stick or a freakish deflection off a body in front of the net. These goals not are the result of any great offensive initiative from the players involving great passing or buildups that allow the fans to anticipate the goal.
  • I had a student who had it in his head that sadness or disappointment were synonymous with boredom. Moments when you are very sad, elated, very angry, very disappointed are not boring. In fact, they may be too exciting.
  • I had a student who didn't know what fruit was, who should have.
  • I had a student whom I had trouble trying to explain vegetarianism. (Or should I say “ a student whom I was trying to explain a word to” or “a student to whom I was trying to explain a word”?) I wanted to have a discussion with her about vegetarianism. Not thinking she knew what the word meant, I explained to her what vegetarianism was before asking her to give me her opinion of vegetarianism. To this she said she didn't know vegetarianism was. And so I told her a second time that a vegetarian was someone who didn't eat meat and asked her if she would like to be one and she told me she had forgotten what the word “vegetarian” meant. I became exasperated but persisted. I told her I had already told her twice what the word was. And so I then told her a third time and she finally understood. I've got to tell the students to stop translating in their heads, and start listening and thinking.
  • I watched a video of a debate between the atheist Richard Dawkins and John Lennox. Dawkins is not a good evangelist for Atheism. While he seems comfortable on the doubters turf about religion, he doesn't have much to offer as a replacement for it.
  • I keep to myself as much as I can because I hate having to deal with stupidity. I have enough on my plate with my own stupidity, I will admit; and this stupidity of mine makes it hard for me to deal intelligently with others when they are being stupid. All I can think to do is say “oh” or say nothing at all. Try as I might, I overhear things that are said by people who are trying to be clever or even sound authoritative. One instance this month, I had chance to hear someone sound progressive about English grammar and forms...
  • A student attending a middle school which shares the grounds with Tony's primary school tells me that Tony is well-known, almost a minor celebrity, at the middle school. Many girls at the middle-school think Tony is very cute and like to take pictures of him. The student told me he had seen lots of photos of Tony.
  • At the end of April, I got hit with a bad cold.
  • A student Tom tells me that Hu Jiantao was something of a figure head leader. So, in fact the previous Chinese leader Jiang Zemin , despite giving up his position, kept his power. Hu was unable to dislodge Min supporters from the Chinese government apparatus. Current president Xi is trying to battle them, having recently arrested two generals from the Min camp for corruption.
  • At the end of April or near abouts, the Jets played in the playoffs and lost their series in four straight.
  • At 8:00 PM on the last Tuesday in April, I taught in the classroom of my school that had a great view of Zhongshan Road and downtown Wuxi. Unfortunately, it wasn't so great to see that scene that Tuesday evening because I see could a storm was brewing. It was all I could to do to hope for the storm to come quickly and pass through as quickly as possible. But instead the storm scene built up rather slowly and the heavy rain started falling at 8:45 just as I was about to go outside and make my way to the subway station and go home.
  • A fool can be someone who is living retarded on purpose.
  • A fool can be someone who has rationale for acting retarded.
  • I tried to watch a Yankees Mets game played in the year 2015 but found I couldn't stand the look of it. The players looked like boys, not men. The uniform pants they wore were cuffed (instead of stirruped)which I thought was abominably ugly. The Mets starting pitcher had a mop for a hairdo. The Yankees starting pitcher had a look of pot-induced insouciance and couldn't wear his cap straight. And the new Yankee Stadium looked like a shopping mall. I gave up watching after barely one inning.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

AKIC's March 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts.

  • Leonard Nimoy, the folk singer and host of the documentary series "In Search of", who made a name for himself by playing Mr Spock, died at the age of 83. He is just a little bit older then my father who would be 81 now if he was still alive.

  • My seven year old son Tony is into Star Wars. Having shown him some Star Wars Lego cartoons which he liked, I decided to download the first three Star Wars movies – that is the first three made – and show them to him. He likes Star Wars (a New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back, and has re-watched them both. He hasn't seen the Revenge of the Jedi yet.

  • Watching the Star Wars movies with Tony, I have to say that they now seem very insipid to me. The technology imagined is thoroughly silly. Who would built four legged lumbering machines that can be easily tripped by cables? I have to agree with this recent article I read in the archives of the New English Review which said that the Star Wars series movies were mediocre, and that the Tarzan movies and the old Flash Gordon serials were better.

  • I was walking down the street, Zhongshan Road, when I saw an old man riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. On his left and to the front of him was a female pedestrian. He decided to make a left turn just as he was about to overtake the pedestrian. His resulting maneuver startled the woman because he came within inches of touching her. Thinking about it afterward, I had to wonder why he hadn't slowed down and made his turn behind her. For he could have because there was that much space. After then witnessing this, I tried to cross Zhongshan Road at a supposed pedestrian crossing and had to yield to an Audi, with engine gunning, going through the intersection at 80 km/h. Yes. Traffic in China always gives me something to blog about.

  • On a Tuesday night, Tony vomited in bed. He hadn't been drinking: alcoholic beverages that is. He was sleeping in the master bed and so no one in the Kaulins Family China could go to bed till the sheets were changed. Jenny cleaned the old ones and I had to make an after-midnight run to the outside trash bin to get rid of the nanseous smelling refuse. I then supervised Tony as he took a shower and was impressed when he had the presence of mind to say that he wasn't going to have to go to school the next day.

  • TAON #7: There is more goodness in the kind act of a imbecile on the margins than in the good intentions of some politician.

  • PARRHESIA It is a Greek term signifying a willingness to speak openly, boldly, fearlessly, especially in contexts where it might be apprehended that some powerful person could turn nasty. I admire people who have this for I most certainly don't. But at least I can say I am honest. The people who imagine they have this, but really don't, usually are the people who talk of speaking truth to power and proclaim themselves to be in sympathy with Barack Obama. These days, the people who really have Parrhesia are reactionaries.

  • I visited someone's apartment. Next to the complex, where the apartment was, was a huge pit which was the start of another building construction. "What are they building there?" I asked the host. "A Shopping Mall, twenty floors high." she told me. "What!" I exclaimed, "They are building another shopping mall! They must surely be out of their minds!" My host agreed and shrugged her shoulders.

  • For a salon class, topic: dreams, I read my class roster list and saw that I have a roster list of nightmare students. In teaching, there will be students who you can't help but hate. You have to hope you can tell them something that may sink in years down the line. You can't expect to change their attitudes quickly. You have to war with them in a war you can't expect to win.

  • "Goddamn the USA!" I gave credit to Obama's former favorite religious preacher for the quote. Why am I saying this? This evil idea of net neutrality is coming into being. Eventually, the Internet will become more expensive and you will only be able to access sites you would never have visited in the days when the Internet was not regulated. The Internet was too good a thing to last, alas. Surely, the Chicoms are looking at what the American FCC is doing and applauding.

  • Soso Jughashvili: Stalin's name when he was younger. Soso is what many students will say I ask them how they are doing.

  • Teacher: How are you? Student: Oh just a Soso. Teacher: Just a Soso Jughashvili?

  • You better not fret. You better not cry. You better not pout. I am telling you why! Soso Jughashvili is coming to town! He knows when you've been disloyal. He's got agents everywhere. So you better be good or else there will be a late night knocky knock knock.

  • From my cousin, who I mentioned has nine children, I got an email announcing that Little Evelyn Rose has arrived. So, that's number ten for her.

  • Good on her for having so many children. But I do have a couple of jokes I want to make. First, my cousin produces children the way Wuxi builds shopping malls. Second, she has almost as many children as Soso Jughashvili had produced bastards.

  • Contemplating a Wuxi sky dulled with smog I have to ask why any foreigner would want to live in Wuxi. I'd say for the isolation.

  • I will come out and admit it. If I see people I know as I make my way around Wuxi, my instinct to avoid them.

  • If I was a betting man, I would say that Hilary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Too many voters in America are stupid these days (They re-elected Obama is proof of this contention) and the Republicans, the stupid party, will not take advantage of the fact that Hilary is so obviously unaccomplished and devious.

  • Words I would use to describe Bill Clinton: pervert, pedaphile, rapist, liar, politician.

  • Words I would use to describe Hilary: liar, cuckoldess, unaccomplished.

  • Briefly visiting the Toys R Us in the Hui Ju Mall, I got a copy of the 1/15 to 6/15 Chinese Lego catalogue and immediately brought it to Tony. As I expected, he was enthralled with it. He was, in fact, so enthralled that Jenny complained, the next morning, that he wouldn't eat his breakfast because he was so intently studying the catalgue

  • I am have been binge-reading Stalin, Volume 1 by Stephen Kotkin. A good book though it sometimes talks too much of the history of the time while not focusing so much on what Stalin was doing at the time. The author has pointed out that Stalin's rise to power was as remarkable as Hitler's. Hitler at one point in his life was living in penury, making money as a street painter in Vienna. Stalin, for his part, never possessed a real job for an appreciable length of time. After he left the seminary where he was a student, Stalin was basically a revolutionary and a thug. With no qualifications or any practical experience of everyday life, he became more powerful than the Tsars who had reigned Russia for three hundred years.

  • That the Bolsheviks ever got so much power was a result of their ruthlessness and a lot of luck. Some of their opponents lost their nerve at crucial moments when they could have easily rid themselves of the Bolsheviks. Thinking of the ruthlessness, I can understand why Pinochet did what he did in toppling the Marxist Allende who had been courting the likes of Fidel Castro. Pinochet pre-empted a civil war that would have resulted in a greater loss of life than the few thousands leftists he did kill.

  • In this blog, I mentioned my surprise at reading about the Russian exiles belief that the Russian revolution was the result of "Jewish brains, Russian stupidity and Latvian Rifles." With my previously very superficial knowledge of the Russian Revolution, which this Stalin biography is helping to rid me of, I would have understood the role that the first two parts, of the triplet mentioned, had played in that event, and been mystified by the third. But I understand the third reference now. The Latvian Rifles were a military unit, comprised of Latvians, who guarded the Bolshevik leadership during the early part of the Russian Revolution where anarchy truly reigned. Without the protection of these Latvians, the Bolsheviks could easily have been destroyed by the other factions.

  • I hate teaching Business English. Can anything be as boring as trying to teach and make interesting business management concepts like Maslow's hierarchy of needs or performance management or business lunch? Business English is often English used when trying to bullshit people.

  • One Thursday, I took the train from school to Ikea where I had hot dogs for supper. The trip took ninety minutes all told.

  • On a few other occasions, I took the train to the Maoye Burger King.

  • I have been following the Winnipeg Jets pursuit of a playoff spot in the 2015 NHL playoffs. As I type this, they are one point out of a playoff spot with the team in front of them having a game in hand. It looks very touch and go as to whether they can get that spot.

  • One morning, I got off the train at the Nanchang Station. As I was about to exit by the automatic turnstiles, I was amused to see a woman in front of me, pulling luggage and also exiting, do a dumb thing. She used her ticket to open the exit turnstile and then proceeded to try to go through the wrong turnstile, the one beside the one she should have gone through. (Probably something I have done myself, I will say now, to make the noting of it in my blog seem not so cruel on my part.) After getting through the turnstiles myself – I had to verve away from her and find an unblocked turnstile – I proceeded to the escalators but not before turning around to see that the woman was still stuck at the turnstile. At the escalators, a man and a girl stopped right in front of the escalators annoying me because I had to come to halt from a nice galloping pace I had built up. After five seconds of hesitating, the pair decided to not take the escalator. Idiots all, I thought to myself.

  • Wuxi Metro passengers ignore the injunction, of the Metro designers and the Metro PA voice, for them to wait for other passengers to have exited the train, before they board it. I tempted to kick them in the shins as I get off or put my shoulders down like an American Football player and knock them all to the ground or at least send them reeling.

  • They seem to issue driver's licenses to apes in China. Either that or Chinese humans turn into apes when they drive their cars.

  • People who drive cars become less civilized. Their actual horizons become smaller even though they can travel faster and greater distances on the Earth's surface. A driver in the City doesn't seen the stars. One, because the glare and the smog caused by the government built infrastructure to support cars obscures the sky. Second, because the driver is focused on himself. Even if his car doesn't have roof, he looks only the road ahead or his GPS.

  • The previous thoughts are a result of having read, on the same day, anti-car entries by both Peter Hitchens and David Warren. Hitchens makes the point that the infrastructure set up for cars is not something that libertarians should be supporting. Car companies are in cahoots with governments in a crony-capitalist way, says Hitchens, and he contents that car manufacturing would not be profitable save the subsidies given to auto companies by governments. It is an interesting point and I wonder if research done by economists would bear this out. Warren's piece was actually more about trains – which he adores – but he did find opportunity to reiterate his opposition to car. The aspect of automobile infrastructure that he found to be anti-libertarian, and thus crony capitalist, was the government regulating of urban parking spots.

  • Local: "Is that your lunch?" Me: "No it's so-and-so's lunch. I stole it from him or her!"

  • Everybody, I have been told, likes the taste of their own urine.

  • Local: "Did you have lunch?" Me: "No. Lunch had me."

  • One morning, as I was walking out of my apartment complex, making my way to the shuttle bus stop which would take me to the subway station and to the train that would take me downtown to work, I was sideswiped by an e-bike that had come from behind. I felt the hard metal of the e-bike as it swiped me. The e-bike was ridden by a mother who was taking her son to school. I was not hurt in the least but I was briefly annoyed, standing for an instant in exasperation before continuing on my way and making a mental note to myself to mention it in this blog.

  • It was not the first time that I had been hit by an e-bike that was cutting it a little too close to me as I was minding my own business.

  • I did a demo class for a company located in the Taihu New City area of Wuxi where there is another huge shopping mall (called Coastal City) and lots of colossal and tall office buildings that surely can't be more than twenty percent occupied. The company I went to was located on the 18th floor of one of these buildings. There, the corridors were wide enough for two lanes of traffic and the lobby by the elevator was an empty space that was probably bigger than Jenny's apartment.

  • Some quotes from David Warren's blog: 1)"Real men" are usually unknown, as I have seen in many other situations. They do not make spectacles of themselves. 2) ...real men are not rapists. They are in control of themselves, and they do not do what they must not do. This pertains of course to everything, not just "sex," which is the first thing everyone thinks of in our disgracefully sexualized culture.

  • In 1926, four doctors did a thorough medical examination of Stalin and they found so many things wrong with him. Soso had diarrhea, dormant TB in his lungs, and a withered arm that was becoming more atrophied. By today's standards, you would say he wasn't a well man. And yet he became so powerful.

  • My Hui Shan local contact is a businessman who deals internationally. He told me that starting after the spring festival, the Chinese central government decreed that all banks closely monitor all transactions, no matter how small, involving changing rmb to US dollars. He said it was making his business very difficult because of the amount of paperwork it involved. I said these capital controls weren't a good sign. And thinking about it, I recalled I had had another businessman tell me that he was thinking of exchanging his Chinese savings for other currencies.

  • There is a foreigner in my neighborhood. Jenny first told me she had seen him and then I saw him. I noted his scruffy appearance, and mentioning this to Jenny, she agreed and said the fella looked like a "junkie." I couldn't have described it better.

  • I went to the Hui Shan Tesco to buy some groceries. I was in the checkout aisle and it was just about my turn to be served when this old woman queued up behind me, getting a little bit too close to me for my liking. Just as I finished putting my groceries on the counter for the clerk to scan, the woman annoyed me by placing her purchases not behind mine, but basically all around my purchases. My ire raised, I thought "the old hag" was trying to have the clerk scan some of her things onto my bill. I didn't bag my things until I was sure the clerk had finished scanning them and hadn't scanned the hag's. Was I being paranoid? Yes. Why? I haven't shed my Canadian habit of being discomfited by people standing close to me in line.

  • Tony had gotten into the habit saying "s***" when things displease him. One Sunday afternoon, Tony & I were at the Hui Ju Mall. Tony was in a hurry to go home and didn't like it when I told him that I had to take some time to take a pee. "S***," he said when I told him this. "I want to go home."

  • A student told me she had gotten a one thousand rmb speeding ticket. An expensive fine but comparable to the fines you get in Canada where the rates are surely set for maximum extraction. The student was doing 91 in a 60 kmh zone and was caught by a camera. She told me that a taxi driver told her that cameras in traffic lights generate over a million and a half rmb in fines per month.

  • The fine rates for speeding in Canada are surely the result of a continual process of upping the fines 25 to 50 dollars a time, many times, over many years.

  • At the bus stop near Casa Kaulins, I saw an older man sitting on the bench, his feet out of his shoes so that his white socks could be seen by all who passeb by him.

  • The death of the former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, generated interesting blog entries by Theodore Dalrymple and David Warren. The Singapore leader created a Singapore that was certainly well run and hygenic, the writers admitted, but they both had qualms about the leader's methods and thus ultimately his final results.

  • David Warren compared Singapore to Hong Kong, and said that the Deng Xiao Ping was inspired by a the Singapore model of development because it showed how the Communists could keep their hold on power without the anarchy of the HK colony which had been benignly neglected by the British.

  • Interesting, I asked one of my better informed students, Tom, about whether Singapore was an inspiration for Deng, and he more or less agreed. But he discounted Deng being primarily inspired by Singapore's authoritarianism. Tom said Deng was inspired by the fact that the Singapore of Lee Kuan Yew was a Chinese creation while Hong Kong was British.

  • Tom told me he preferred Singapore to Hong Kong. And so I asked him how it was that Wuxi's level of orderliness and cleanliness was so low. Things happen on Wuxi roads and sidewalks that would not be tolerated in Singapore, I told him. To this, Tom told me of a survey if cities in China that ranked Wuxi at a low level of civilization. A high level of civilization presumably being a place like Singapore. It was Tom's contention that Wuxi scored low on the civilization ranking of Chinese cities because it was filled with people from the countryside. Wuxi local people, he said, knew to stop at red lights. He told me he was baffled by the ignorance of traffic rules in Wuxi and took the time once, near his factory, to see who were ignoring traffic rules and lights. He saw that it was the machine operators from his factory, all of whom were from the countryside. He theorized that these people were often in a hurry to get to another place where they were also working or that they were under so much pressure to make money for their families back home.

  • What did you do last night? I asked Tony. He told me he did his homework and then watched TV.

  • Here's what it's like with the computers at school. I cannot install or save anything on the C drive or the desktop because the next day, it will all be gone. Software I like, which is not supplied by the system we are on, has to be installed on a Z drive. I found this all out the hard way after discovering that everything I had installed on my computer the day before was gone.

  • Forgot to give Tony his lunch one morning and so I had to go to school to give it to him. I was quite the sight for all the kids who saw me. A foreigner walking their halls could just as well be a panda. Tony attends a local school, not an international school because I can't afford it and the snobbishness in those places would make Tony's life hell.

  • I was reading this article entitled 33 Ways to Boost Your Career When You're Bored at Work. Many of the 33 things mentioned, like learn to code, read a book, learn a language, and write a blog, I had thought to do already. Where is my career boost? Ha!

  • Is a racist someone who has ill opinions of other races or someone who wants there to be genocide of the races of people he doesn't like? If a real racist is strictly the latter then I would posit that the number of racists in the world is very small. This is very inconvenient for Leftists who need the supply of that kind of racists to be bigger in order to justify their world views and political stances.

  • Sunday, March 29, the temperature was warm enough that I could take off my jacket. Unfortunately, the sky was dingy on account of smog and everywhere seemed covered in a thin film of dust. Best to stay home and read a book, I thought, but Jenny didn't want Tony to stay indoors because all he was going to do was play with Ipad, and so I had to take him somewhere, out of the apartment and away from the Ipad, like a park. Tony very much didn't want to go outside but he had a good idea. He said he wanted to play Ipad on the subway. I was amenable to this idea because I thought of a scheme of my own to pull on him. So, Tony & I went by e-bike to the Yanqiao Metro Station. I let Tony play with the Ipad on the train, but after just four stops we got off at a station that had a nearby park. The park was, considering the niceness of the day, very underutilized. It had a look of being built with a build-and-they-will-come hope that had yet to pan out. It boosted of a shopping area with all empty store fronts and fixtures that were still in good condition because of limited use. I enjoyed myself there but Tony was wanting to return to the station and get back on the train and play Ipad. I delayed doing this by telling Tony that as soon as we got to another sight in the park we would turn around. And then Tony had another bright idea. He suggested that we walk on to the next subway station (Tianyi) instead of turning around and returning to the station where we had disembarked (Xizhang). The Tianyi and Xizhang stations seemed close together and I suppose it was but a ten minute walk between them. So to Tianyi we went. There, we got on the train. Tony then played Ipad and we returned to Yanqiao. I had managed to satisfy both Tony and Jenny, thanks to some thinking on my and even Tony's part.

  • On the train with Tony, I had this shy young man approach me to talk. He told me he was attending #6 High School and that he lived in Jiazhouyangfang (my apartment complex). He said he wanted to talk me so he could practice his English. When I told him I was impressed with his efforts, he thanked me and said I had given him confidence to continue to learn to speak English. I was touched by what he said, especially because the day before I had to spend two hours with a pair of students who I very much would have liked to have pummeled and who, to even think of afterwards, filled me with rage. (As it was, I had to spend the classes thinking of ways to insult them) It was so wonderful to know that there were some students who very much want to learn English. They do help me deal with the fact that I have to be stuck with spoiled brats (how is this possible in a country that is Marxist? Hmmm?).

  • On the way back to Casa Kaulins from the Yanqiao Metro Station, Tony & I passed through the Hui Shan Central Park. Tony was disappointed to see that the slides and climbing fixtures had been taken away. I thought the fifty foot tall climbing fixture was remarkable because it certainly could not have been erected in the safety-facist West.

  • With no fixtures, I was able to get Tony to walk up a hill and look at the scenery. While there, I thought it remarkable to see this woman wearing a short dress, black pantyhose and high heel platform dress shoes picking flowers from a bush. She had put the flowers in her hair, and her daughter's as well.

  • I rode the 25 bus on the second last day of March. It was wonderful to see poor people. The rich people in Wuxi are boring in the way that people with newly acquired wealth always are. The better off in Wuxi look like Westerners and are not in the least exotic. The poorer ones on the other hand seem closer to being what I imagine authentic Chinese to look like.

  • On the second last evening of March I booked my flight tickets for my trip in Canada. (Jenny had booked the tickets to Canada last month). We will spend about three nights in Vancouver: enough time for me to get my driver's license renewed and for us to get Tony's Visa so he can get back to China.

  • The high temperature on the last day of March in Wuxi? 27 degrees Celsius. Too hot already!