Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016 Notes

 I wrote something earlier about Tony's bad time at the pool and my subsequent temper tantrum.


I can't find it on my school computer. Perhaps, I left it on my Mac book.


[Later] I didn't. How did I manage to lose it?


Anyway. What happened was this: Tony & I went to the swimming pool near Xishan High School on a Monday afternoon in early August. For the summer, the pool place had opened its outdoor pool and filled it with these large plastic floating slides and other sorts of playground like props on which Tony liked to play. So after his class which was in the indoor pool, Tony & I went to the outdoor pool. I watched Tony as he played on an floating saddle with a group of boys and it gradually became apparent to me that the boys didn't want Tony playing with them. On a couple of instances the boys made a point of pushing Tony off the top of the floating saddle. Finally, a pair of the boys pushed Tony away from the saddle. Tony cried as they did this and I had to intervene.


I very much would have like to have grabbed the heads of the two boys and knocked them together so they had concussions, but I decided that it wasn't a good idea and instead splashed them. To let off my anger that I still had, I swore at a man who I presume was a lifeguard and had a weaselly China man smirk on his face. I pointed at him as I yelled the f-words at him a bunch of times.


The incident put me in a dark mood and filled me with foreboding for a long time afterwards. Tony is always getting picked on, apparently, whether by other boys or girls or adults or teachers. The incident brought back bad memories from my school days and made me wonder if I wanted to stay in China.


As I consoled Tony afterwards, he said he hated China.


*


Tony has developed an interest in flags. Because of this interest of his[I thought to call it a fetish but thought better of it], I downloaded the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics so we could watch the parade of nations and their flags.


Like 2008, it became tedious after awhile. Now, I don't want to say that there are too many countries in the world because that would mean being on the side of people who are dumb enough to think that the EU is a good idea, so my solution to the tedium of the parade of nations would be that each country only have one athlete, the flag holder in the parade. I don't need to see all the goofing off and waving from the other members of the country's Olympic team.


One big observation: the North Koreans and mainland Chinese teams were full of dead stiffs.


*


I don't much like the Suning Plaza parking garage. In early August we went there and its parking garage was stifling hot, I suppose, because of the need to air-condition the mall's nine floors of open space. I also don't like the SP's parking garage because it doesn't have stairs that one can take to avoid the tedious wait that taking the lifts up to and from the upper mall floors involves. Often the elevators are so full of people that one has to watch the elevators make several trips up and down before one can get on one: unless, one takes the elevator even if it is going in the opposite direction from one desires. This tactic seems necessary in order to secure an early place on an elevator.


Jenny also doesn't like the SP parking garage as well and has thought that it may be better to park at the Hen Long Parking Garage. [Hen Long is another larger shopping mall located a block or so south from SP on Renmin Road.]


The first time we parked at Hen Long, I was brain dead. I first drove past the ticker dispenser when entering the garage. My excuse for this gaffe is that the parking garage at the Wanda takes a photo of your license plate upon entering and out of habit I assumed the same would happen at HL. And then when exiting, I expected to have to present the ticket I had to a human in a booth. It wasn't till a minute after we went to the exit gate and saw that there was no attendant that it dawned on me that we had to pay at a kiosk before getting into our car and exiting.


*


Expats are so tedious. I say this fully admitting that I am the king of tedium.


So I am going to have to revert to my Wuxi Expatdom Blogging days and just make stuff up about a universe where Wuxi expats are actually interesting. Now instead of doing this in the Expatdom blog, I will just do it in this entry. I will mix these bits of fiction with my real life notes.


It will be up to you from this point in the entry to the end to determine if what I am writing is a product of my fancy or did in fact happen.


*


I met a Catholic reactionary who happens to live in Wuxi. He puts me to shame with his sanctity and piety.


*


Teaching a class about adventure to a student going into high school, I asked her who had more adventures: adults or children. She said adults. I said children. I told her she probably thought this because Chinese children aren't allowed to have adventures. They are stuck at home all the time doing homework.


*


The only adventures that Tony likes to have are in computer games. I can't get him to accompany me on drives to the countryside.


*


Crossing the street, I was able to get two BMW drivers to stop and not cut me off as they were making turns.


*


Doing some one-on-one classes with a girl who is about to go to high school in Langley, I decided to talk to her for a half hour or so about the social ills that befall the lower mainland of British Columbia. I told her of car theft, property crime, drug use about students, welfare moms to name but a few. It was enough to make me wonder if having Tony go to school in Canada is such a wonderful idea.


*


A funny ugly English mistake:


A student describing her charitable activities said that she gave her useless clothing to the poor.


*


A company class I had been going to had done something to their parking lot. Asking about it, I learned that because the company workers had too many cars, the parking lot lines were repainted so that what once had six parking spots could now have seven.


*


Jenny may be pregnant.


It is a scary and yet wonderful prospect I think. Tony very much needs a sibling. But for me it will mean that I could never retire, never fade into the sunset as it were. I will have to be hustling till my final breath. I am too old to be having another child and the child could well be diminished in ability because of my age That is, he or she may not be smarter than a bag of hammers. And yet, the child will be something for me to love till the end of my days, and Tony will have something to worry about besides playing the iPad. Maybe it will make him more responsible. I pray.


[you will have to scour this blog entry for the answer, in code form, to the question of whether she is or she isn't.]


*


I was able to take the family vehicle for a drive in the area near our apartment. I discovered the road in Jiangying that Hui Shan Da Dao runs to has these side roads that are pleasant for cruising. The roads are tree lined and empty of traffic and run past agricultural fields and numerous ponds.


*


I very much want to despise Trump but the left wing media's coverage of him has been over the top hysterical and untruthful. The guy can't even make a joke without that media lying about it. It is like they are in the bag for that wife of that pervert and are going over the top on Trump in hopes of not having to deal with the fact that their gal is a crook.


*


I was taken back to see a woman fast asleep on an Ikea display bed that was in the lobby of the Livat (Hui Ju) mall. I very much wanted to take a picture but ultimately shied away from doing so.


*


On Monday, August 15, Tony and I went to the IKEA. Usually, we don't go through the display area of the store. It has been our habit to just go to the register area where the IKEA food shop can be found. But on that day we went and we were disconcerted to see just how many locals actually go to the store to take afternoon naps on the display beds. One old man was right out of it and was under a sheet. I don't know if he was using the display sheet or had brought a sheet with him.


*


On that Monday, I drove to the IKEA by a different route. It was sort of back way. I took it instead of going on the elevated road that gets us to the IKEA normally. I found myself driving through large areas that I had never been in before. Wuxi is just much bigger than I could imagine.


*


Tony can now eat a double – not a single – Texas Stacker burger, with bacon, cheese and meat sauce, at Burger King. It has become our habit to first feed him at Burger King and then to feed me at the Subway.


I like to call Burger King, King Burger because Tony will instantly correct me.


*


The Clinton foundation, the so-called charity, is really, as John Derbyshire has said, the personal ATM for the pervert and his wife.


If they were truly engaged in public service, they would not be millionaires.


*


My 7 all-time favorite movies:


Lawrence of Arabia

Wizard of Oz

Kiss Me Kate

The Long Voyage Home

The Producers

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Top Hat


#8 is Patton.


*


10 Canadians I like:


Preston Manning

Stephen Leacock

David Warren

Stephen Harper

Bobby Orr

John Candy

Mordecai Richler

Marc Steyn

Conrad Black

Kathy Shaidle


*


My 10 favorite hockey players


Bobby Orr

Guy Lafleur

Ken Dryden

Yvon Cournyer

Peter Mahovlich

Denis Savard

Mario Lemieux

Bobby Hull

Tony Esposito

Gary Cheevers


*


Ane My 10 favorite baseball players


Ichiro

Gary Carter

Carlton Fisk

Johnny Bench

Joe Morgan

Andre Dawson

John Olerud

Joe Carter

Bill Lee


*


August Zhejiang trip notes


I had a nine day vacation - 4 days off and 5 leave days - around the middle of August. The Kaulins family spent three days in the Wux, then 3 days in Zhejiang province and then 3 days back in Wuxi having a mini vacation on account the the mini vacation we had just had.


We drove to Hangzhou which wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the train. I didn't fancy the prospect of a three hour drive amongst Chinese drivers.


As it was, The drive was tiring and didn't offer any great views till we came upon a high speed rail track running parallel to the toll highway on which we were driving. As we got close to Hangzhou, we drove on a stretch of road where on our left, there was a lake and then a city in the distance while on the right, there was an elevated high speed rail track on which there was a train.


Hangzhou, I learned in an internet article I happened to come across after we had booked and paid for our hotel, was to be gearing up for a G20 meeting to be held in August. The article advised to not go to Hangzhou.


Hangzhou definitely was gearing up for the G20 meeting. As we entered the city, we were stopped at a road checkpoint and had to present our IDs. In the city, one would have been hard-pressed to not see signs, that were everywhere, mentioning the fact that the G20 meeting was taking place in Hangzhou. In the subway stations, soldiers wearing olive green combat uniforms and toting shiny black rifles scared the heck out of Tony. By The Xi Lake tourist area, roads were closed off, only G20 vehicles being able to go about in an area where many G20 tents were erected.


G20 meetings, are not about motor oil but supposedly about economics and finance. The over top expense on this meeting on the part of the hosts would seem to violate principles of sound economics and finance. The people who should know what they are doing don't seem to really.


We inadvertently entered Hangzhou twice within half an hour. After we had entered the first time and gone through the check point, we were off to our hotel. To navigate to it, we used the GPS on Jenny's phone. The GPS gave us ambiguous instructions and so we chose a wrong turnoff from which there was no turning round. We found ourselves at a toll gate entering a freeway we didn't want to enter. When we told the attendants of our plight, we learned that there was nothing we could do but exit at the next toll gate. This was to cost us five RMB and thirty minutes. The exit was a clutter fest of trucks and cars queuing in a Chinese manner. We found ourselves surrounded by large lorries that were jostling for position in either one or two exit lines -- we weren't sure. At one point a driver of a truck behind us was pounding on our window and gesticulating in a manner that I think meant he wanted us to get out of his way or go to another line. Whatever. We survived. We got to the toll gate, paid the toll and then had to go through a security checkpoint to again have our IDs examined.


Be that as it may, our sojourn in Hangzhou was okay. We saw the lake, took Tony to a playground, added to our fridge magnet collection for the places we have been in the world, rode the Hangzhou Metro: the seventh Metro system that Jenny and I have ridden in China (others have been Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Hong Kong, Wuxi and Suzhou) and we rode a boat on the Grand Canal.


My assessment of Hangzhou? Too touristy, but it would be a nice place to live. If you do visit, go in the spring or autumn. It is far too humid in August.


Also, don't drive in Hangzhou. The traffic is heavy.


From Hangzhou we drove to Anji, a small town also in Zhejiang province. We booked a hotel there so we could go on a white water rafting experience. The drive out of Hangzhou was harrowing. As I was saying traffic was heavy and I wasn't aware that in some places the road was narrowing which made for some near collisions. But out of the city, the driving became enjoyable as traffic lightened and the hills made for nice scenic views. On some stretches of road, the views were quite spectacular as the mountains thrust high in the sky and we had to go through some rather long tunnels to get to our destination.


I first found Anji disagreeable. Its drivers and cyclists made some swear-inducing maneuvers in traffic. The hotel in which we were booked seemed to have been hastily built without the construction process having completed its cleaning up phase. The hotel was incongruous with the plot of land in which it had been built. The new road around the hotel was in the midst of tall, uncut weeds. The underground parking garage was mostly without lighting possibly because they wanted to hide the dirt, dust and trash that was still there. And when we went to the lobby, there was a Chinese family with loud kids running everywhere. Our hotel room wasn't as nice, to say the least, as the one we had in Hangzhou. The view from our window was of construction. The area was following the typical plan of Chinese city expansion: wide boulevards midst tall apartment buildings. Not a wonderful sight at the best of times, but what I was looking at outside the windows wasn't completed yet. As I went to the parking garage to bring up some bags, l was on an elevator with a father who thought it was okay to bring on a lit cigarette. As I grumbled, his daughter appeared to admonish him. Settled in our room, we decided to go to downtown Anji for lunch. It was an annoying experience because we had a hard time finding the restaurant we wanted to go to, a hard time finding a place to park, we were sweating a lot on account of the humidity and the restaurant was closed anyway since it was a little past 13:00. That's the way it is the countryside said Jenny. We ended up having KFC for lunch.


From the KFC, we drove to the white water rafting activity site. The roads were narrower and we saw some nice hilly scenery. We got to our destination by finally taking a narrow road through a valley that was advertising itself as a canyon. The site's parking lot was packed and so we were told to park snug against a decorative rock, that was at the entrance, that was the site's sign.


There were a lot of people, all Chinese, waiting to get into rafts. They were wearing helmets and life jackets. I walked to a railing overlooking the top of the water course and was disconcerted to see fifty rafts all bunched together at the route's launch point. Many of the rafters were having water fights. I was wishing we hadn't gone.


Dressing ourselves for the raft ride further put me in a foul mood. We were not prepared. We all should have brought a change of clothes and plastic bags to keep our things like electronic devices and documents dry. I was not comfortable wearing my waist bag because it wasn't water proof. But we were able to buy cases to put in our phones and which I also used to keep my passport and drivers license dry.


Once we were afloat on the raft, things got better. I was glad Jenny was of a like mind and we stayed away from the gaggle of rafts at the launching point. When they let the rafts down the course, Tony very much enjoyed himself. I was still a little worried when my waist bag got soaked as our raft hit the first surge of white water, but Tony's joy made me feel sheepish.


Driving home, I was shirtless because my t-shirt was soaked. Back at the hotel room, I saw that none of my things was damaged by water.


That evening, we took a taxi to a hot pot restaurant. I drank not one, but two beers.


Then was back to our hotel room and then back to Wuxi. The drive back took us through some newly made roads and then along freeway that had nice scenery, tunnels and bridges. We experienced some temporarily heavy squalls of rain that cleaned of the dust that had accumulated on our car during the 500 KM of driving we had done.


*

I hate going to a restaurant between 12:00 and 13:00 and between 17:00 and 18:00. Too crowded. On work days, my habit is to have lunch and dinner at other times, even in the mid-afternoon.


*


Other than the opening ceremony which I watched because of Tony's flag fetish, I haven't watched any of the Olympics


I have been reading reactions to them though. I was pleased to hear about a few of the medal-winning athletes who were practicing Catholics. One of them was Bolt and another was a black American gymnast or swimmer. The girl had the good fortune to be raised by Catholics. The best reactions to the Olympics, for me, were written by Theodore Dalrymple and Peter Hitchens. Dalrymple praised India for its utter lack of success at the Olympics. It showed that India had its priorities proper about something, said Dr D, who went on to observe that countries that do win lots of Olympic medals often do so as a result of totalitarian government impulses like the Soviet Union, East Germany, Canada, and Great Britain. It was GB's success at these Olympics that resulted in a nice rant by Hitchens that backed up Dr D's point. Hitchens said GB's success came from subsidizing athletes in the newer and marginal Olympic sports that no one much cares about like synchronized swimming and the 123 m slow walk.


To live in a country that didn't win any medals when it hosted the Olympics. That is surely Canada's finest moment. Unfortunately it probably resulted in the Johnson fiasco of '88.


*


Tony watched the film Patton. He told me he very liked it.


*


I phoned my Mom. Life goes on in Canada. Sad news I heard about a cousin's husband whose garage had been burnt. The house is condemned and it will cost 70,000 bucks to fix it.


*


Tony is fat. Mind you, he is not obese and I doubt if anyone would call him "Fat Tony" if they ever talked about him in the third person, but a little fat he is which makes him obese for a Kaulins boy. When I was growing up, I was constantly told I was skinny, skinny, skinny.


Tony has to eat more vegetables and fruit, and less meat but it is hard to overcome his resistance to any food that does not suit his picky tastes.


*

Tony's Birthday Celebration.


If you care to know, Tony was born on August 23, 2007.


The celebrations for his birthday were low key. We bought him a few presents but nothing spectacular. (If you have to live with the pile of toys that he has now, you wouldn't be so enthusiastic to add to it.)


We invited a few buddies of his for a pizza party at Mr. Pizza for lunch, then took them to an arcade and then to a park to play.


There was no birthday cake and we never did have that paintball party we had envisaged.


I found that being around five noisy nine-year boys got on my nerves.


Because I had to work on the 23rd, the festivities I mentioned took place on the 22nd.


Some of the presents that we did get Tony we ordered online or as the locals would say, on Taobao. The toys arrived the next day and were dropped off at the parcel drop off point which is in the lobby of a building near where we live. Between the time they were delivered and Jenny & Tony went to pick them up, they were stolen – there was security cameras that recorded this. Jenny was refunded money by the delivery company and will have to order the presents again. Tony was upset but will eventually got over it once he got the presents which were a bunch of military toys: soldiers, tanks and guns.


*


With my vacation ending with a week to go in August, I was full of foreboding as September approached. I very much dread Tony's going back to school because of the bullying I suspect he will be subjected to from teachers and classmates, and the tiger-mother frustration that Jenny will experience and how she will deal with it.


*


I hear that Double Saint Archduke Sir Harry Moore Emeritus will be canonized again this September. At the ceremony in the Vatican, Mother Teresa is going to be canonized as well.

Congratulations Harry!


It makes me think of a scene in the great movie Patton where the General is putting on his three stars despite it not having had official confirmation of it by a vote of the US senate. When Bradley offered his premature congratulations, Patton said that they has their schedule and that he had his.


How I love to re-create that scene in Melbourne will good old Harry. There I would be offering my premature congratulations while he, putting on his triple halo, talks of God having his schedule and he (that be triple saint Harry) having his.


*


A student has a friend who works for the electric utility company. This friend gets to look at the numbers and she reported to the student that electric usage by industrial companies was seventy percent of what it was in the previous year: an indicator that the Chinese economy is going down.


*


Many Canadians – far too many, I'd say – like to think they are superior to the Americans because of government programs like gun control and medicare. I'd say that if Canadians were truly morally superior, they would be so as individuals, not as sheep. We wouldn't need these government programs because morally superior individuals would be able to control their urges despite having the means to not to and morally superior individuals would be able to take of themselves and of those they encounter in their day to day lives who cannot. They wouldn't be shirkers which is what the nanny state government allows them to be. They wouldn't be moral preeners because the responsibility if placed on themselves as individuals would make them more humble.


*


I can't say that I was born in the wrong time in history or that I am stuck with the wrong sort of people. Choices that I made in my life, my meekness and my being content with being like a reed subject to the wind are the reason for what is lacking in my life.


And what is lacking in my life? Friendship.


Of course, it could be the price I pay for the solitude which I do enjoy.


To be ungrateful would be worse than being lonely.


*


Here comes a bad joke. If Tony was in Canada and he had an interest in flags, would he be chided because it is considered gauche to salute flags, and anyway, in Canada, they now salute f......


*


On August 25th, Jenny got a phonecall from the people who had taken the package containing Tony's birthday presents. They told her that they had taken it by mistake. Jenny gave them an earful.


*


On August 25th, I understood that Jenny was to see a doctor about whether she is you-know-what. I find myself hoping she is even if it means a whole load of inconvenience coming down the pike for the rest of my life.


*


I was approached by locals on the subway two trips in a row.


On the first trip, which was in the evening after work, a youngish man was trying to sell me insurance. I told him I already had some. He wanted my phone number but I gave him my Wechat ID instead.


The next day, as I was going to work, a middle aged man, possibly mad, I couldn't say for sure, sat beside me. He asked if I needed help to which I at first felt annoyed, as I said I didn't, but as he began to talk some more, it seemed to me that he wanted to practice his English on me. Finding out where I was from, he loudly proclaimed to me, "Welcome to China!"


Twelve years in China I have been and they are still welcoming me.


*


Tony got his toys. They were Lego knock-off types that required assembly – lots of assembly in fact. When I arrived home one evening, Tony got me to build his battle tank toy. I spent a couple hours putting the thing together and still wasn't close to finishing it when it was bedtime. For my troubles, I had a sore back, walking about hunched till circulation was restored to my full body, and I got a creeping suspicion that I am going to have to get more powerful glasses. Reading the assembly manual and searching for the little pieces very much strained my eyes.


*


Jenny isn't pregnant. The information left me feeling hollow. I looked at Tony and felt that in the long run, it would be bad for him.


*


After that, everything was almost an anticlimax for the rest of August.


I use the term anticlimax because stuff did happen that would have been anticlimactic otherwise.


There was my last weekend before Tony's return to school. I actually was able to do some driving around the area seeing parts I hadn't seen before.


The first evening of the weekend, I parked the car at the Hen Long Parking garage. It's our parkade of choice downtown because it's clean and cheap. The only thing is that it's entrance tunnel is tight like a piece corkscrew pasta.


The next two days found us paying visits to the local home decorating mall. We went there to find a new light fixture to put above the bathroom mirror. While we were there, we decided that we would also get a new bathroom mirror that had a shelf and for which the mirror opened like a door.


We had to go to the place a second time because the bracket we had for the new light fixture we bought didn't match up, hole wise, with the holes that we already had on the wall.


While doing this, we were able to drive around the area, explore as it were. We found the location of Tony's primary school's new campus. Sadly, it is located in an area that has just been opened up for development. So, the area is rather a pile of rubble. There are the remnants of old houses in factories that have not been completely torn down yet. And there is still rubble from the work that has just been done. We also came upon a truck that had flipped on its side. It must have tried to make too quick a turn with a very unbalanced load in the back.


[The reason that there will be a new campus at Xishan Primary School is that they have 8,000 students! The old campus will be used for grades four to six. The new campus will be for the grades one to the three.]


Tony & I ended the weekend by going back to the pool. We hadn't been there for a while, having lost our enthusiasm for it because of the incident that I mentioned way back at the start of the entry. We didn't want to go back but we were ordered to by Jenny. We have a lot of money, unrefundable, on our swimming passes, she told us, much to our consternation.


So we went. I wanted to arrive late and leave early. While Tony had his class, I stood in one corner of the pool and watched the clock. I tried to think pleasant thoughts while doing this, but I couldn't. I hated that I had to be at the pool. It was shallow and crowded, and I was bored. Being bored, I start to think resentful thoughts about Mainland China. I told Tony that I wanted the pool as quickly as possible and just get back home. Tony however wanted to go play after his class. I told him that I was going to get dressed and then come to get him. I first went to shower.


While I was doing so, some kid really got on my nerves. He walked past the shower, yelled waiguoren at me. I am used to that, but his sneering insolence while he did so got under my skin. I then happened to see that the coach, Tony's swimming coach, give the boy heck. I decided to go watch Tony instead of getting dressed because I didn't want to encounter the kid in the locker area. But after watching Tony for a minute, I changed my mind. I went to my locker. Much to my annoyance, I got a locker right in the midst of a bunch of kids. So I took all my stuff out of the locker and went to an empty area of the locker room. But that damn kid was there. He sneered at me again and I lost my temper. Remembering what Jenny said about the locals using the f-word, I spoke it liberally to the kid. He called me monkey. I would have struck him but I chose instead to squeeze my wet shorts over his head. I got dressed, went to pool, and told Tony it was time to leave. As Tony was getting dressed, I saw the obnoxious kid again. He sneered, I swore and chased him away. The pool orderly, an older man, thought to get between me and the boy. The boy fled and I turned to Tony who told me that he wasn't impressed with my outburst. Why are you being so bad Daddy? Tony said as he looked behind me to see the Lookie Lou's that were congregating.


Two trips to that pool in August; two times I left in a huff after a temper tantrum. I wish they would ban me.


Damn, I hate losing my temper. I hate more that I know better and that as soon as I tell myself to not do it, I do it anyway.


*


I hate spending more than twenty minutes putting together a Lego type toy. After the building the tank, I spent another evening putting together a toy rocket launcher.


*

As much as I get angry at the locals, I don't find western expats to be much solace. On a Wuxi Expat we chat group, the day of my second episode of cussing at the pool, the discussion was about it being Penis Day.


Perhaps the kid is right. Foreigners are monkeys.


*


Student told me what the government was doing to make Hangzhou look good for the G20. It was encouraging residents to leave Hangzhou during the G20 conference by offering discounted prices for parks in areas outside of Hangzhou. To lessen traffic in the highways around the city, they instituted an alternating odd-even-license-plate-this-day-only policy on highways. Having chosen to go on a trip to Zhejiang province on the wrong day, she had to pay a fine because a camera caught her car.


*


Nothing frustrates a foreigner like me more when trying to learn Chinese than a gaped mouth bellow of incomprehension of someone you are trying to practice your Chinese upon. Sometimes, another Chinese person can translate what you have said for the one who made the cow like guffaw. Still, a few of these incidents are enough to make an aspiring Chinese speaker give up. Some foreign speakers have assumed that the inability of Chinese to understand them is the result of a prejudice of the Chinese person that foreigners can't speak Chinese or an appalling lack of imagination on the part of the Chinese person.


Imagination is not a typical Chinese person's forte.


Well, a student tells me that the Chinese have this problem when they speak to each other as well. The reason is that a unit of Chinese sound (equivalent to one character) used to make words will have many different meanings even if it has the same tone. So, the unit of sound can throw off even the most fluent of listener who is wondering what word the speaker is meaning.


*


It turns out that that boy that I was swearing at was mentally-challenged. Way to go me! You are a bully! You are going to have to ask the kid's parents for forgiveness. It may well be that the kid won't understand an apology.


*


You can't drive in a Wuxi summer without a/c. It is hot, deadly hot in the car without it.


Jenny told me of a 10 year old boy that died in car because he had been left there for five hours by his father. What happened, apparently, was the boy fell asleep in the car, unbeknownst to his his father who parked the car in the sun. When it became apparent that the boy was missing, they looked for him and found him dead in the car. A horrible story and you can help but feel for the father who will have to live with the mistake for the rest of his life.


*


On the morning of the last day of August, Jenny, Tony & I went to the new campus to find where Tony's classroom was. If I could use only word to describe the campus it would be: totalitarian. The school buildings were three or four floors high and organized in a confusing maze of annexes and hallways. The main administration building was full of offices and conference rooms: a bureaucrat's dream come true, but a joke to anyone who has spent time in any Chinese office building. I couldn't help but giggle at the signs for some of the offices like TV and Radio office, conference room #4, moral development department, to name a few.


The place was jammed with parents, students and cars. A mob formed in one part of the campus apparently because the parents where not happy with some of the construction materials used to build it. They said they were poison. I missed seeing the mob but I did see a bunch of black uniformed security types gathered around who I assumed had made the crowd disperse.


The campus is a thirty minutes walk from the Xibei canal subway station. I found this out because I had to go to work and it didn't look like whatever they were doing was going to end in time for me to make it to work on time.


I cold write another five hundred words on what I saw as I walked from the campus to the subway but I won't.


*


I learned later that the parents who complained about materials used at Tony's primary school were taken away by police. It was ugly said Jenny. The parents said that that their children had been playing on the sports field for an hour and had gotten nose bleeds.


*


I got onto the subject of shopping carts with students in one class. I told them about how shopping carts were stolen in Canada and observed that in China now, you have to use coins to unlock them. A female student then told me that some locals steal carts and take them to parks to use as barbecue grills.

Monday, August 1, 2016

July 2016 Notes

This is my longest entry in a while.


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July 1 should be Dominion Day in Canada. The fact that it is called Canada Day is the result of historical ignorance of present day Canadians and boneheaded Trudeau style Canadian nationalism.


Good Canadians should curse Trudeau every July 1st.


*


I drove up beside some local driver, a guy, and gave him the one finger salute. His offense had been to make a right turn without looking, right in front of me, so that I had to brake quickly and take evasive action. I think he noticed me. As we continued on in traffic, I was beside him again and I repeated the gesture, but he was looking away, had a stoic look on his face and was wearing ear-buds. The latter sight might explain his crazy driving.


It just goes to show you the evil effect that cars have on people. This guy was very much in his own world in his car.


*


No local driver I have talked to will admit to making a turn without looking, but they won't deny that other local drivers do this.


*


The late part of June and the early part of July, it seemed like the rain would never stop in Wuxi and so I began to increase the threshold as to when the rain was heavy enough for me to bring out my umbrella.


*


Along with all the rain in early July, I saw a couple aftermaths of e-bikes and automobiles colliding. One collision at an intersection, was the result of a bicycle and car lane being side by side. The car had made a right turn without looking for e-bike traffic. The other collision was surely the result of an e-bike running a red light on which the automobile had a green left turn light. E-bikers in Wuxi are always taking enormous chances at intersections. I have skirted many an e-bike ignoring a red light and trying to sneak through the intersection when having the green.


The level at the Xibei Canal, as a photo I have published to my wordpress blog will attest, was about two meters higher than usual on account of all the rain.


*


Tony in early July:


Tony said he hated Japanese.


He expressed this hatred because he had been playing too many World War Two computer games.


He had also been watching some episodes of the famous World at War documentary: the one I grew up on in the 70s and 80s and featured the narration of Sir Lawrence Olivier.


One evening, I ordered takeout from Pizza Hut and Tony ate more pieces than me for the first time ever.


Tony was watching the World at War documentary about Pearl Harbour and getting upset as the Japanese were destroying American ships.


*


July 4, Tony & I took the train to Shanghai for a daytime visit.


Upon arrival in Shanghai, I took Tony to a Mister Pancake House so he could have pancakes and bacon.


After that, he said he wanted to go right back home to Wuxi. He wasn't happy when I told him that our train would be leaving in six hours and I had planned to take him to two museums after the pancakes.


First, we went to the Shanghai Propaganda Art Centre, which was a trick to get to it. We had to take three trains, that is two transfers, to get to a spot where we could catch a taxi that would get us to the museum. Which was located in the basement of an apartment in the back of an apartment block on a long street in the French concession. After the taxi dropped us off, we had to do a bit of walking to find the exact location. I first started going in the wrong direction on a long street and didn't determine that I had done so until after having walked a whole block and made Tony even more upset.


All the trouble of getting there, however, was worth it for me because I very much enjoyed the museum. Though the museum was only three rooms big, the posters and other displays were incredible. I found it interesting that I was looking at posters denouncing American Imperialism on the fourth of July. I suppose if I was younger and in my full conservative phase, I would have felt extreme unction at the messages. As it was, I shrugged my shoulders. Much as I despised everything the displays stood for, I couldn't help but admire their style.


For his part, Tony thought the place was okay.


Tony was his whiniest, however, as we walked from the poster centre to the nearest subway stop from which we could then proceed on our way to the second museum I wanted to go: the Shanghai Metro Museum. I have to admit it wasn't a bright idea for us to walk five blocks in scorching Shanghai summer heat to get to the subway stop. We both ended up soaked with sweat. Tony was also soaked with his tears as he complained of sore legs and he repeatedly stated that he very much hated Shanghai.


The long trip to get to the second museum on our itinerary was a waste as it turned out. We took three subway trains (actually four because we got on the wrong train of a route that had branch lines) and got to the museum location only to learn that it wasn't open till mingtian, that is tomorrow.


Of Shanghai's 18 subways lines, we rode six that day. Combine that with the subway line in Wuxi we took to get to the Train station, and the trains we took back and forth from Shanghai to Wuxi; and you can say that July 4, 2016 was a nine train day for the Kaulins boys!


*


An anecdote that I can finally relate to you:


A foreign trainer took a student to the pub for a period where he should have been teaching him a class at the school.  I found this out when the student in question came to my class, which was scheduled in the period after 50 minutes late, and told me and the other students where he had been.  I later learned I was the bad guy in this affair, the blade as it were, because I mentioned the strange incident to the other trainers.  The trainer who took the student to the pub confronted me the next day and said I was a blade because news of what he had done had circulated through the school. I was in fact not the reason that the news had circulated through the school, but be that as it may, the news did deserve to circulate through the school and I was astounded at the shamelessness of the accusation.


I was also said, by this so-called teacher, to not have a life because I choose to go home to my wife and son every evening instead of going out, presumably with the dissolute bunch of other unmarried adult thirty and forty something teenagers that he did.


Anyway, this piece of work is finally no longer working at our school.  Good riddance.


My only regret is that I should have told him it was good that he was gone when I had chance.  I would then have done the Christian and decent thing.


*


Cars are the work of the devil.  They bring out the worst in people.  In China, they make the lack of consideration the Chinese have for other Chinese more dangerous and deadly.  In the West, they bring on Road Rage and an increase in the size of government oversight.


No libertarian should support the car.  Cars don't so much increase human freedom, as encourage a government-corporate crony relationship which reliably herds people onto freeways and traps them in car jams.  And this herding has the effect of separating people into solipsistic units, solipsistic sheep who can be relied to not mount opposition to the regime in which they have been herded.  Indeed, cars congregate and separate people.


And then there is the land taken up by parked cars.  Talk about ruining communities!


*


Portugal won Euro 2016. They really did. And yet, it didn't seem right.


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Gun Control doesn't lead to a reduction in murder rates. It never has. It never will. In countries, where Gun Control laws have been enacted, the murder rate has not gone done. Why? Guns are just one of many ways we can murder people. We can use knives, car, explosives, poisons, arms, bottles or any blunt instrument. And in America, guns aren't the most popular way to kill people; knives are.


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Should Expatriates be missionaries? Depends on the cause for which they are proselytizing. Otherwise, they are a bunch of self-regarding egotists.


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As I have complained before, local drivers are notorious for stopping their cars anywhere without regard to the inconvenience they cause others. Be that as it may, they have their reasons, inconsiderate as their stopping is.


And then I saw a car stopped in a manner I couldn't complain of, but the driver and passengers where engaged in an activity that best would have not been done on the road at all, let alone on the side of the car which was close to traffic. What were they doing? They were assembling a piece of furniture, a mirror on a stand, on the driver side – the traffic side – of the parked car from which they had unloaded it.


I should have taken a picture.


*


Obama was a real shit at the memorial to the slain Dallas police officers as he made a big rant about how America didn't have enough Socialism. Why can't Lefties just leave their ideologies at the door on solemn occasions?


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This ado about the South Chinese Sea is worrisome.


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On a Wechat group for Wuxi Expats, I posted a picture of a navy diver saying Happy Bastille Day!


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I was told of a reason, that I had never thought of, for the Chinese hating the Japanese. The theory is as follows: In WW2, the KMT did all the fighting against the Japs while the Commies lead by Mao hid in the interior saving their forces for the Civil War that was to follow. Chang Kai Shek, whose initial plan of fighting against the Commies had been to let them go on their Long March, so as to put them in an isolated area where they could be properly dealt with, had his plans ruined by the Japanese whose attack he hadn't anticipated. And so many Chinese hate the Japanese because they helped bring the Communists to power.


Interesting theory.


But later that same day, I was listening to a Radio Derb podcast. He quoted Cheng Kai Shek saying the Japanese were a disease of the skin and that the Chinese Communists were a disease of the heart. According to the Derb, this was what Cheng said when he was accused of not using sufficient of his forces to fight the Japanese.


So were any Chinese fighting Japs in WW2? Or was everybody holding back? Even the Japaneses?


And thinking on the theory some more. It would mean that the Chinese also hate the Americans because, in a way, they also helped the Chicoms prevail by so giving the Japs an excuse to hold back their forces in China as well. By fighting the Americans in the Pacific and thus holding back their forces in China, the Japs allowed the Chicoms to hold back their forces and so come to power. So the Chicoms have the Americans to thank for this; and the Americans, like the Japs are hated by China.


That's of course if the Japan-China war even happened. With all sides holding back as I have shown, no one appears to have had a reason for fighting.


*


On a Sunday afternoon, I went to a Starbucks to buy Mocha Frappucinos for Jenny and myself. There was no lineup when I made my purchase and when I got back to Jenny, she remarked how quick I had been. When I said there had been no lineup, Jenny recalled that the Chinese were boycotting American chains like McDonalds, KFC and Starbucks for some political reason: the South China Sea issue.


*


Here is my two cents about the South China Sea controversy. I don't know much of the history of it other than it was the result of confused dealings at the end of World War 2 and the fact that it now has economic resources every nation craves. But since the Chicoms (or the mainland Chinese) are involved, everything that they have been saying about the issue has to be taken with a grain of salt. And seeing how the Mainland Chinese drive: they never fail to cheat in order to get ahead of other drivers, it is laughable for Mainland Chinese to talk of international law and fairness. When it comes to dealings involving honor and rules, the Mainland Chinese are devious and lacking in scruples. In a world where right would make right and not might makes right as it is, the Mainland Chinese and Chicoms would be entitled to about 10 feet of the sea that lies beyond their shore. What percentage of the South Chinese Sea would that be? Hopefully less than one tenth of one percent of it.


I type this rant after witnessing yet another annoying episode of Mainland Chinese aggressive driving. In left lanes which run up against a median, there will be a gap in the median for cars to make u-turns. Now if there is a long lineup in the left turn lanes so that the u-turn gap is not easy to get to, my inclination is to wait for traffic to move along and for the gap to become available. But some local drivers, will drive past the lineup, and then with their horns blaring try to cut into the lineup so they can get to the u-turn gap quicker. Witnessing this, I fume and find it hard to accept the fact that the local drivers drive the way they do. Blatant a-holery is hard to accept, coming from a culture that I do that insists on rules being followed and consideration for others when in traffic.


The day of typing this rant, I specifically witnessed a driver, who was honking his horn, cut in front of three other cars, including mine, that were trying to make the same u-turn he was. Typically, he was driving a BMW. Seeing this, I have to say that if this is the way the Chinese drive, they can't be trusted in business or diplomatic dealings.


*


And yet, many of the students I talk to are darn well aware of the bad driving habits that their comrades possess.


*


I am wearing my Dad's wedding ring along with my wedding ring all the time. Dad's ring does remind me of him and of all his faults and his seemingly simple-minded decency. And so I have to admit that Dad did more for me than I have ever done for Tony.


Be that as it may, Dad didn't ruin my summers by filling them with extra classes as Chinese parents do.


*


I asked some younger students about their parents driving and they all replied that their parents were good drivers. Thinking about my line of questioning, I now think that I should have asked them if they would ever admit their parents were bad drivers.


I did ask them a more useful question about whether their parents got mad when driving and what it was that got them mad. Some students did tell me that their parents practiced this vice. One student told me how her parents hated it when they were going at a fast rate of speed, following another car and that car would unexpectedly and all of a suddenly stop on a stretch of road where they shouldn't be stopping. That I got. But then another student told me that her parents hated it when a car was stopped at a red light in a lane marked as a lane in which you can either make a left turn or go straight ahead, and they were behind that car and wanting to make a left turn. That happens to me sometimes but I never feel outraged about it because no rules are being violated and so there is nothing for me to do but wait patiently for the next green light.


I see I will have to ask more students what gets their parents mad when they drive because my reaction to the second complaint told to me by the student was incredulity. Of all the things to complain about, you complain about a driver who has done nothing against the rules and just happens to be in your impatient way? Leads me to think that the parents of these students are typical local drivers and thus not very good drivers at all.


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From David Warren's Blog:


One picks up one's habits from one's environment, and by condemning that environment, one condemns oneself.


Therefore: environmental change begins with not whining.


I say Warren has a point in most instances. That is, I see how that applies most of the time to life. But does it apply to my whining screeds about the driving habits of the locals? That is, I shouldn't whine about the driving here since I am part of it?


My initial reaction is no, but on reflection, saying that is how they drive and not getting mad about it is the proper reaction and in keeping with Warren's point. I am just going to have to try to be as courteous driver I can be and accept the fact that I will be – if you pardon the expression – pissing against the wind, be taken advantage of drivers who don't practice the courtesy I wish they would.


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I am for Ted. Ted Cruz that is.


Be that as it may, I am left having to hope that Trump prevails over Bill's wife in November. I hope despite the fact that Trump is a nincompoop; or as Peter Hitchens has said: a fake conservative yahoo businessman. But he has the single virtue of not being that woman.


After Cruz made his speech at the Republican convention, I had been scouring the Internet for reaction to it. I was particularly interested to see what my two favorite Catholic bloggers, they being David Warren and Mundabor, had to say:


Warren, as yet, has not published his reaction (he did later say he was ignoring the conventions), but Mundabor did. Mundabor, to my great disappointment, was very scathing of Cruz, calling Cruz a lot of words that I thought Catholics were above using. Mundabor's three main points in his screed against Cruz were that : 1) Trump's opponent was Hilary 2) Cruz had violated a pledge 3) Cruz should have ignored the insults against his wife and his father because a PAC that supported Cruz had started the squabble by publishing unflattering photos of Trump's wife. To the first point, I can say that one Trump supporter, I listen to regularly, the Derb, has actually said that Hilary is not all that bad. To the second, Trump has been recorded as saying before the convention that the pledge was off and he didn't care if Cruz supported him or not. To the third, I would say that Trump's wife did pose for the photos and it was bound to be public anyway, whether some Cruz supporter, who was acting independently of Cruz anyway, published them, or some supporter of that so-called woman did. And Trump showed he was un-presidential by actually tweeting, himself instead of relying on some minion, the uncomplimentary photos of Cruz's wife.


I have to wonder, how Mundabor would feel about Trump if instead of the Democrats nominating Hilary, had nominated Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.


*


Tony got mad at Siri.


What happened was that I was asking Siri to show photos of national flags, and Siri was doing a good job of showing me what I wanted. I would say "Siri, show me the flag of Sweden" for instance, and a flag of Sweden would show up on my IPhone. This impressed Tony, and so he tried to replicate what he had seen me do. But he keep mangling the syntax and grammar of his questions, and he couldn't get Siri to show him flags he wanted to see. He finished his session with Siri by repeatedly telling it (or her) that he didn't want to talk to her no more: to which Siri replied that she didn't understand what he was trying to say.


Tony must think Siri is human.


*


Tony did a thoughtful thing: a little thing, but enough to make me proud of him.


We went swimming at a pool near the Xi Shan High School. The pool center had an outdoor and an indoor pool. Tony wanted to play at the outdoor pool because it had these plastic slides and floating props which he thought were fun. I accompanied him to the outdoor pool, and I watched him as he played and even hoisted him on the huge playthings. The outdoor pool was shallow which I didn't mind sitting in, as it was very hot, but I eventually decided to go to the deeper indoor pool. Doing that, I decided to leave Tony's and my flip flops outside. So, I swam in the indoor pool and waited for either 16:00 which was when we agreed that we would leave, or the off chance that Tony wanted to leave earlier. And so at about 15:30, I saw Tony come to the indoor pool and look for me. When we found each other, Tony told me he wanted to go home. As I got out of the pool, I saw that Tony had laid both his and my flip-flops by the indoor pool.


*


As I was saying, July 2016 in Wuxi started off wet; but then it ended with a heatwave. The plans I had to get a pedal bike were shelved as the weather wouldn't allow it, and the question of where to put the bike was not resolved.


*


Tony says he likes America and wants to go there on a trip. Maybe, we will be able to go there next year.


I think Tony likes America because of the computer games and World War 2 documentaries he has been watching.


*


I am not proud to admit it, but I think in Celsius. But I was listening to a podcast where it was said that the temperature was up to a hundred in Washington, DC where they still use Fahrenheit – God bless them! – and I wondered in temperatures were similarly as high in Wuxi. I found out, using the Internet machine, that 37.8 C is exactly 100 F.


So, temperatures are up to 100 in Wuxi in July 2016.


*


Tony likes National flags and so Jenny ordered a bunch of small paper ones for him with which to play.


Tony, disconcertingly, given the nationalist furor over the South China Seas, has been walking around Wuxi waving his American flag, which I am thinking is his favorite flag of the bunch. [You may want to see the photo of Tony with his flags at either of the Tony Kaulins in China sites.]


Like with toys and drink packages, Tony is leaving his flags all over Casa Kaulins. You would think that Casa K was the UN after a riot.


*


David Warren says Hilary Clinton is not a woman and that Donald Trump is not a man. Geez, the Derb thinks Trump is an alpha male. How to reconcile these two viewpoints? The term Alpha Male is applied to lions and apes. Both of which aren't men.


*


I'm reading Kim by Rudyard Kipling. It is an enchanting novel and I rue the fact that I live in a post modern environment where consumption is all that defines anyone. How I long to meet people who possess some kind of religious sanctity.


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Listening to Mother Angelica and reading David Warren, I see there is no point to following the current US presidential campaign very closely. If politicians aren't particularly interested in saving our souls, there is no use in inquiring what the policies would be.


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Tony ends July playing with his flags, worrying about what he would do if his parents died, and expressing a keen interest in UFC.


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I explain to the students what it means to know something about heart.


I then ask the students what they might know by heart. I sing the Star Spangled Banner to demonstrate that I know a song by heart.


One student tells me he knows his friend's birth date by heart....


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Some English names that some students have given themselves: See Saw, Drinkwater, Nice.                                             

Sunday, July 10, 2016

June 2016 Notes

Another brief entry. Hopefully, I will have more to tell you all about my July, 2016.


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On a Sunday in early June, the K family took the family vehicle (our Citroen CRX3) to the Ling Shan area of Wuxi. We didn't go to the Big Buddha but we were able to see it while we drove around the shores of Tai Hu.


The drive was quite nice actually. The road wound through some hills and offered some picturesque views. However, when we stopped alongside Tai Hu at a spot that was seemed wonderfully lacking in people, we saw dark green water and nearly gagged at the horrible odor emanating from it.


*


My son Tony tells me that he wants to change his name to Stanford Pines. Stanford Pines being a character on the cartoon series Gravity Falls that I have introduced to Tony. Tony has watched the two seasons of the cartoon series over and over again.


Besides this strange declaration, Tony has been saying a lot of other funny things and asking me all sorts of questions, most of which, thankfully, are from a discovery of facts about the world which in turn has spurred him to be further curious. For instance, he has been asking me about countries, their flags and World Wars One and Two.


*


Differences are meant to be laughed at, said GK Chesterton, or so I seem to recall him saying. And if my memory isn't further failing me, I believe GKC was commenting on how English or European travelers would be disconcerted by being laughed at by the natives who thought their different ways were quite hilarious.


I mention this when I think of the stories I have heard by Chinese and Africans. Many Chinese would make jokes about the blackness of Africans skins, I have heard, that in this day of hyper racial sensitivity would be considered hate crimes or examples of extreme racism.


And so it was that the reaction to the detergent commercial, where a black man is pushed into a washing machine by a girl and comes out as a light skinned Chinese man, is big in the PC World but not in China.


*


One student, the old engineer who I sometimes get to talk to on a Saturday morning, says he would to like see Trump win the US presidential election because he sees Hilary as part of a political dynasty and Trump as just being a more interesting personality. When I told him of Trump's attitudes on trade with China, the old engineer didn't seem concerned.


*


For Dragon Boat Festival Day, the K family drove to Jenny's Hometown so Jenny could do some paperwork at the police station there. On the drive in, we encountered a bit of a traffic jam on the freeway; but had clear sailing on the way back. The other drivers didn't annoy me so much, except this one guy who rode my ass for thirty seconds.


In the evening, back in the Hui Shan District, where we live, we went to see the film Warcraft. The movie was alright but doesn't deserve a repeat view or anticipation for its possible sequels. More interesting than the movie, to me, was Tony's strong desire, which he expressed by sobbing and a few temper tantrums, to not see the film. Jenny suspected he was really mad at not being allowed to play on the Ipad to his heart's desire.


As we suspected, Tony who has before been known to express opposition in the strongest manners to things beforehand and then change his mind, calmed down as we took him to the movie and was in a good mood as the evening progressed.


*


In June, We also drove to Suzhou and stayed overnight at a hotel. I hated the drive because the traffic was horrible, but I didn't mind Suzhou so much once the car was parked at the hotel and we were able to ride the subway around the city.


*


I was ecstatic when I heard the results of the Brexit vote.


What I don't understand is why such a large proportion of people, 48 percent, wanted to stay in that God awful monstrosity that the EU had become. Were these people ignorant of history? Did they think that staying in the EU would bring on some sort of stand around the fire and sing kumbaya world? Did these people like have their life taken away from them at airports or government offices? (I say this because this is the world that would surely result if the EU ran more and more of people's lives) Did these people stupidly think that being in the EU could end bigotry or racism? Did these people stupidly think that the EU had been responsible for the peace that has existed, except when it hasn't, in Europe since 1945? Did they secretly want Canada to join the United States? (Canada's situation vis-a-vis the USA, will soon be akin to Great Britain's to Europe once Brexit is enacted) Did they think that acting like ignorant and arrogant dickheads was the way to convince their opponents to join their side?


There is nothing more ignorant than someone who thinks he knows better.


There is nothing more bigoted than someone who thinks he is lacking is prejudice.


Bravo Great Britain!


*


I warned an Englishman that he should fear the match against Iceland at Euro 2016. And I was right.


It was the perfect opportunity for England to break their fans hearts and they naturally took advantage.


*


My gig of teaching US History at Big Bridge came to an end. Just in case it hasn't, I will be reading a lot of history books over the summer.





Thursday, June 2, 2016

May 2016 Notes

My history teaching gig has curtailed my blogging, or I should say, has reduced the note-taking I have been doing for what has lately been my monthly blog entry.


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May 1, on WeChat, I posted the following:


Screw "Labour Day".


Celebrate the feast of St Walpurga instead.


This May Day holiday is a left wing holiday and thus not worth celebrating. Nice as it can be to have a holiday.


The Walpurga line I got from my favorite ranting blogger Mundabor. M is a Catholic and nothing is better than to adopt one of his rants when I am in a bad mood. The Catholicity of it takes the curse off something I said when I am in a mood to make ill considered statements.


*


On May 1, we, that is the K family went to a tent camping festival in the countryside of Jiangying. Friends of Jenny invited us. I agreed to go despite a 95 percent certainty that it was going to be lame like most of our school outings.


And it was. Five minutes after arrivingI wanted to leave. As it was, I had eight hours of being the lone foreigner with 400 Chinese who've brought tents to a flat field in the middle of dull area. Jenny had initially raised my hopes by suggesting the camping site might be near a hill.


It would have struck the average camping Canadian as a very pale imitation of real camping.


Tony, who doesn't know how to hold back his thoughts, starting telling us that he was bored after two hours. Of course, he would rather have been playing iPad so I don't think real camping would have seen him less bored.


*


I am afraid I am not a good guest to a typical Chinese event. I have the lost the ability to endure them stoically. I become very peevish and very impolite. My bad manners are indefensible of course which is why I hate these affairs even more.


Ungrateful bastard that I am, I will tell you what I hate about Chinese affairs:


  • There has to be constant entertainment. That is from start to end, there is a program of entertainment that is amateur and boring. I hate always having to endure singing children, belly dancers and wannabe hip hop dancers. I'd rather have time to read or mingle.

  • The food is lame.

  • People shove food towards you when your hands are full or you aren't particularly hungry. (how to stop them from doing this? I have to fight the instinct to tell them that this generosity is really an imposition.

  • No dancing.


*


What was good about the trip to Jiangying was being able to visit our guest's apartment which is on the 16th floor and affords one great views of boat traffic and shipyards on the Changjiang, aka Yangtze River. However, I couldn't help but be disconcerted by the apartment's setting. The apartment complex is half a kilometer or so from the river's edge. So, in-between the apartment and the shipyard is a huge empty lot as well as a lot being used for farming. The two lots look desolate and forlorn because they are strewn with rubble, garbage and crumbling buildings. The desolation and forlornness is made all the more profound by how it contrasts with the apartment complex itself which has green areas that look lush and well tended.


*


The Brandon Wheat Kings will play Seattle in the WHL final this year. The matchup is interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First, Brandon and Seattle were the ends of my world before I came to China. It was a process of decisions I made early in my life that took me from Brandon to Seattle. From Brandon to Seattle I lived my adult Canadian adventures: adventures strewn with loneliness and an uncertainty of who I was and of what I was capable. Second, the contrast between Brandon and Seattle is quite profound to my mind. Brandon is a sleepy prairie town with incredibly cold winters and lots of mosquitoes; Seattle is a teeming metropolis is the dank western portions of the North American continent. Seattle is Starbuck's coffee, Brandon is Simplot and Mackenzie's seeds.


I attended quite a few Wheat King games when I lived on Queens Avenue in Brandon. The Keystone Center was a ten minute walk from our home. At the time of my attending, the Wheat Kings has the likes of Ray Ferraro, Ron Hextall and Kelly Glowa playing for them.


Of course, the one person I am in passing contact with from Seattle doesn't know about the final.


*


In early May, Trump became the nominee for the Republican Party. While I was cheering for Cruz to defeat him and I did share a lot of the NeverTrumpers contempt for Trump, I wondered if this contempt for Trump could survive once he was matched up against Bill's wife. Reading the arguments put forth by John Derbyshire and Pat Buchanan for Trump, I could find myself being able rationalize cheering for him against that woman. Particularly on American foreign policy which I have found a tricky subject to have any opinions on, I think there could be something said for Americans just letting the world stew in its stupidity. But there is so much about Trump the man to dislike as my favorite blogger David Warren, who is very anti-Trump, has said. And then there was Trump saying Ted Cruz's father was somehow in cahoots with Lee Harvey Oswald and wondering if Cruz Senior was somehow involved in the Kennedy Assassination. Has anything as nutty ever been said by any other major party nominee for the US presidency? Even Obama was never this nutty.


*


I first heard from Jenny that there was a huge fire in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Learning the fire was of the forest fire variety, I thought about how I had told students about the large forest fires that take place in Canada that normally don't make news unless they get near a populated area, or as I read in David Warren's blog, urban service centers. I thought it strange that a forest fire would be taking place in May in Northern Alberta. I would have thought things were too moist in Canada at this time of the year for massive forest fires. But my ponderings on this score were answered in David Warren's blog entry on the fire. Fort McMurray, said Warren, is in one of the concavities of Alberta, and thus a natural hot spot. From Rex Murphy, I learned that the political left in Canada is get a strange satisfaction from the fire because Fort Mac is in Tar Sands country.


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When it comes to this history teaching gig that I am in the midst of, I am learning as I go along. Thankfully the history reading I had done for my personal interest, before the thought had ever entered my head of teaching history, has served me well and I just have some blank spaces to fill in for my historical knowledge.


History is a forever interesting topic. I could think of anything that would be better to teach and so it amazes me that many students don't find it very interesting.


I suspect many Chinese students don't find it interesting because they have to memorise dates and what not.


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I was with Tony in McDonalds one Saturday evening. I ordered a cheeseburger for myself and chicken nuggets for him. I started eating my cheeseburger but Tony finished it for me. He has been rather strange about cheeseburgers. I thought he liked them about six months ago but then he swore off them until this Saturday evening where he suddenly ate half of mine.


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I watched the first two seasons of a series entitled The Fall. In it, Jillian Anderson plays a detective pursuing a serial murderer. The murderer is found out and apprehended and so the series is instead trying to focus on the psychology of the Anderson character and her relationship with the serial killer. I can't get into possibly because I am a male with no understanding of the female psyche, but more precisely because the Anderson character is as feminist third wave and anti-Catholic as a character can be: a self-important slut.


*


As it turned out, Brandon beat Seattle four games to one in the WHL final. The Wheat Kings won the first three games of the series in overtime with every one of those games ending with a 3-2 score.

I posted the result of this on WeChat. The one Chinese hockey fan I know of appreciated it.


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Tony doesn't like his swimming classes anymore. The last two times when he was told it is time to go to the class, he sobbed and I had a difficult time convincing him to go. The first time, he did the class. The second time, he put on his swimming costume, went in the pool and then after five minutes told me that he wanted to go home. I got him to stay for thirty minutes but he didn't join his class. His instructors even asked him but he refused to join. I don't think he likes his classmates. But I can't get more out of him than that.


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May 23, a Sunday, the Kaulins Family China went to the Ling Shan Buddha, aka Wuxi's Big Buddha. For Andis, it was a bit of a chore to battle the feeling of being a jaded fuck about it. After all, the Big Buddha is something newbies go to see, not veterans like myself. But it was the first time I drove there. Going out there, we took the toll road, 120 kmh speed limit and I found myself enjoying the drive. Traffic was light.


(There was an idiot in a van doing 50 kmh on the toll road who gave me a fright because I came upon a little too all-of-a-suddenly. Imagine you doing 70 kmh on a road and you all of a sudden come upon a man standing on the road. That was the affect the driver had on me.)


I saw a few foreigners at the Big Buddha.


To the Big Buddha site we had to go through a massive shopping area that was IKEA like in that you had to follow a winding path through all sorts of merchandise. I couldn't recall having passed through such a trail on my previous visits to the place


We then went to another tourist style village in Ma Shan. It looked for all the world like the ancient village that was recently constructed near Xi Hui Park and the Nanchang Bar Street.


It was nice to drive along Tai Lake.


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May 28th was the fourth anniversary of my father's death.