Tuesday, August 4, 2015

AKIC's July 2015 Back in Wuxi Notes



  • Our flight from Vancouver arrived in Shanghai Pudong where the airport was dingy and the sky was gray.
  • We took a bus from the airport to the Wuxi bus station.
  • At the bus station, the taxi stand was closed so we had to hire a private driver to take us home. It was our good fortune that it wasn't raining because we had to walk a considerable distance, toting three heavy bags of luggage outside, to get to his vehicle.
  • The first thing I noticed on my return to Wuxi was all the wetness. The Yanqiao Metro station, as I went back to work, was particularly damp.
  • They say that of all the students in the world who speak English as a second language, the Chinese are among the worst. Why? I have what are only guesses since Chinese ESL students, not ESL students from other countries, are the only ones I encounter. I first guess that the Chinese are exceedingly shy about using English. I have seen that they will only speak English with a foreigner and often the foreigner has to force them to speak. Many of my students only want to answer questions with a yes, no, or okay. Despite my telling them to speak English among themselves, none of the students ever heed my advice. They will quickly break into Chinese in conversation among themselves in an English class. Do ESL students from other parts of the world have these bad habits?
  • I also blame the Chinese education system for notoriously requiring too much rote learning. I have had many Chinese ESL students learn sentences by rote for my classes. [The same has been said about Japanese students of English as well.] When I ask my students to make a second sentence on the fly using their wits and imagination, they go mute. [Rote learning has its uses but turning history into an exercise of remembering exact dates, like the Chinese do, stops students from taking an interest in it. It must be deliberate.]
  • Is this poor Chinese performance also due to a fear of losing face when making an English speaking mistake?
  • Is it also because the Chinese are arrogant about their place in the world?
  • First day back in Wuxi, I had an evening company class. Maybe, I have mentioned it before but this company is located near the Civic Center Metro Stop (Line #1) and the Coastal City Shopping Mall. To get to the company from the metro stop, I have to walk down a long pedestrian tunnel. This first day back from my trip to Canada, the tunnel floor was damp and my shoes were squeaking as I walked. I thought that there had to have been a flood, but what I learned from the students was that there hadn't been a flood, but that the dampness was the result of the large amount of rain that had fallen in Wuxi during my absence. Ultimately, it was a design flaw by the engineers that was to blame.
  • Second day back at work was Dominion Day, a.k.a. Canada Day, but I didn't care. Stupidly, Canadian politicians changed the name of the July 1st holiday to Canada Day from Dominion Day and so, many Canadians, who are ignorant of Canada's history, think Canada was somehow born on that date in 1867. Canada has existed for 400 years since it was so named by the French who first settled there. What happened in 1867 was that the various Canadian colonies decided to establish a federal government, become the Dominion of Canada as it were. Now, I am proud to be Canadian but not proud of its federal government. Canada would be better off if its federal government was weakened and so I can't celebrate Canada Day because it is really a celebration of the Canadian federal government formation.
  • The second night after my return from Canada, I couldn't get to sleep. Jet Lag. The next day, I was awake till about 8:00 PM when I had to fight to stay awake for my final evening class. Then on the train ride home, I kept nodding off.
  • I will have a class where, if all the students show up, the majority of them will be twins. That is, I will have a three person class with twins. So, 66.7 percent of the students in that class will be twins. Now if the class consisted of five students with two sets of twins, 80 percent of the students would be twins. This adding of a set of twins would mean a 13.3 percent increase in the size of the proportion of twins in the class expressed as a percentage. This increase seems small for what is in fact a 100 percent in the absolute number of twins. Now going from 66.7 to 80 could also be said to be a twenty percent increase if 13.3 is expressed as part of the 66.7. If the 13.3 is expressed as part of the 80, the increase could be said to be 16.7 percent. What does this tell you? Don't trust the numbers you hear from politicians or their spokesman or their enemies in the media. Look at the absolute numbers.
  • A backfire or discharge of gas from a passing bus caused a loud exploding sound that startled the boys and girl in the office. The girls screamed and then some of the boys told stories of bomb explosion that they were near in South Africa and England. There was also talk of Xinjiang people. No one was hurt. The driver of the bus walked around the bus to inspect and eventually went on his way.
  • Trying to cross Zhongshan Road at a pedestrian path, I had to stop otherwise I would have been run over by a bus. The driver was trying to maneuver his vehicle through a traffic jam.
  • The decision to publish my monthly blog entries is fraught with indecision for me. Every time, I go through the notes, I notice something has been overlooked. Often, I am talking about a subject without first introducing it to my readers. I am always forgetting that any readers I may have are not in my mind and know nothing about me. I really need an editor.
  • There are butchers in the butcher shop. So said a student when I asked her to make a sentence with the word butcher. In response to her sentence, I asked if butcher shops sell butchers. [That is another reason why the Chinese are such terrible English speakers.]
  • I was doing a Speaker's Corner and two potential customers, that is possible paying students, fled. They didn't like it when I tried to say something to them. Some students don't want to be forced to overcome their shyness.
  • Summer is humid in Wuxi but I do like the sight of women's legs and peasant wide brimmed straw hats.
  • Tom, our most articulate student, is not in favor of “gay” marriage. “Why would they do that?” he asked me. They being the powers that be in the West. I could only tell him that like China, the West had a cultural revolution in the 1960s for which we are paying dearly now.
  • How can I talk to a student about Game of Thrones which she hasn't seen all the episodes yet? I don't think I can but the student wants to...
  • A teenage student told me that she had just learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. She hadn't learned to ride a bicycle when she was younger because her mother thought it wasn't safe.
  • Tony, at eight years of age, still rides his bicycle with training wheels. I can blame this on my working four evenings a week, my laziness when I do have time for Tony and Tony's addiction to computer games.
  • On the first Saturday evening back in Wuxi, we found ourselves at Wuxi's Nanchang Jie bar street. Jenny & Tony went to someone's birthday party and I tagged along. Looking for food for myself, I discovered the hard way that the Burger King had shut down. I had to walk the long bar street about three times to make sure I hadn't passed its former location by mistake. The birthday party was at a restaurant and bar called Honeymoon. It had several floors and a nice view of the nearby canal to recommend it.
  • After the party, the three of us had to fight through big crowds to get out of Nanchang Jie.
  • On a Sunday, we bought a new E-Bike that was small-sized for Jenny. The old e-bike is big and hard for Jenny to push around, and will now be for my exclusive use.
  • The Greek crisis caught my attention and for a few days I followed events there closely. These are my thoughts about it: I want to see the EU crumble because I feel large multinational super bureaucracies are evil. Greece, though certainly a wonderful country is socialist, and deserves its fate for being so. So the EU versus Greece, for me, is like the Iran – Iraq war where no one knows who to cheer for. For the sake of humanity, I hope that the battle is short and that from the wreckage, a more distributionist world order can emerge.
  • I don't let Tony forget his shameful behavior to Grandma and Grandpa when we left Brandon. Sad to say, he was more interested in playing Minecraft on the Ipad.
  • Nothing like a “Thank you!” from Jenny to make my day.
  • 30,000 Japanese die a year of Kodokushi. That is, they die old, alone, and neglected so that they may lay undiscovered for weeks. In the USA, 11,000 are killed every year because of guns. (40,000 or so are killed in automobile accidents). Much ado is made of gun deaths in the US and yet we don't dwell so much on the atrocious care of old people in Western style cultures.
  • It's the suits that have screwed up Greece. With their nice hair cuts and their fancy suits, they are truly effeminate, lacking in courage. They couldn't adult up in all the years that people knew the Greek debacle was coming.
  • Rocky, a student, tells me that when he eats spicy food his voice changes.
  • I hadn't been giving much thought to the Chinese stock market collapse till I read an article on the telegraph.uk site saying that what was happening in China was more impactful than what was happening in Greece. So I found myself looking at the stock market app on my Iphone for the first time and I began questioning some students who told me that they had lost money. One told me that the Chinese were now going to put all their money in real estate.
  • That something like this collapse should happen to China is not a surprise to me. In this blog, I have reported how much unnecessary construction of retail space and apartments I have been seeing in the last few years.
  • In the near middle of July as I was thinking about the market crash, I looked at the streets and life seemed to go on. Nobody was jumping out of buildings.
  • I asked a student if she had made a difference during her day before the class. Once she understood what I meant by make a difference, she said she hadn't. Most students would probably tell me that. Selfish twerbs.
  • Imagine, I said to a student, if you knocked on a stranger's door and told them that you wanted to help them, make a difference.
  • How to be taller? Stand by a short person. How to be faster? Stand by a man with no legs.
  • In a business salon class, the students and I were reviewing a dialogue where the following was said: “Do you want me to call Amsterdam?” One of the students, whose English is not weak, told me that he did know that Amsterdam was a city in the Netherlands. He had actually thought that Amsterdam was a person. Just have to be careful with proper nouns if you are a teacher and a student, but especially if you are a teacher.
  • I had to ask the local Hui Shan businessman I know about the the stock market collapse. He told me of a few theories he'd heard. In one theory, it was the Americans that were to be blamed. That theory posits that they came to China and did some short selling and left the Chinese holding the bag. Another theory said that the Jiang Zemin faction destroyed the stock market to spite Xi Jing Ping.
  • He also told me of the enormous shadow banking sector that exists everywhere in China to escape the controls, particularly the foreign exchange controls, imposed by the government, which require lots of paperwork to do foreign transactions and which impose daily limits on amounts of foreign currency that can be used. Need a lot of American currency? Go to the shadow bank.
  • Tony told me he was angry with me. This was his response to my criticizing his desire to do nothing but play games on the Ipad and PC and his not wanting to walk to stores in the area of our apartment. And to the latter point about not walking, he told me that walking was not good for him.
  • In spite the silliness of our arguments, Tony is talking more and showing a great fluency in English, using words that I would have thought that he didn't know how to use.
  • I went to the local Decathalon to buy another pair of the same type of shoes that I had worn on my trip to Canada. While I can now buy shoes my size here, thanks to Decathalon, I don't want to take any chances and see my size of shoes no longer in stock.
  • Some English Names the students have given themselves recently: Murphy Portman, Skywalker, Momo, Oliver, Ennis, Kell, Kingsley (a girl gave herself this name), Joyce (a boy), Circle, General, Rocky, Holly, Garfield, Sky, Snow, Nail, Maco (who is studying chemistry because he is a fan of the Breaking Bad TV series), Xavier, Thea, Aviva, Shella, and Effie.
  • For the Summer, Tony is attending something called the HyLite School of Art and Sinology which is the same complex as my school. I can get to Tony's school from mine through a series of stairs and hallways without going outside. Picking him up the first day, Tony said he liked the school, but he couldn't me why.
  • One morning, I got on the Metro at Tai Hu Square and went in the direction of Changguanxi, the southern terminus of Metro Line #1. I only wanted to ride the train to waste time so as to not to get to work too early. I had time on my hand because I took Tony to his school for an 8:30 kickoff. I didn't have to start at my school until 13:00.
  • At the Changuanxi platform, I got off the train to see there was another train parked on the other side, but its doors were closed and looking at the board, I saw a sign saying it wasn't going to depart for forty minutes. I wondered what was going on till I looked back across the platform and saw that the train I had gotten off at was on the side of the platform with signs indicating it was going in the direction of Yanqiao which was the direction I was intending to go. So, I got back on the train. When I arrived at Nanchang station, I was interested to see that it only cost me 1.90 rmb to ride the subway as far as I did. [It should have cost 4.]
  • This company I am teaching (Lan Gui Feng or Lan Kwai Fong is how you spell it) gave me this sheet written in English to edit about Taihu New City and Lan Kwai Fong Wuxi. Taihu New City is what the Wuxi Government wants to be the new Wuxi downtown. It was hoped or estimated or projected said this sheet that one million workers would move to this new CBD!!! I couldn't hold my laugher.
  • Two students, Sky and Betty, or as I call them Skybetty because they are a inseparable pair, told me they went to Vietnam. I asked them if they went to Saigon, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. They told me they went to an island that had a water park; and I told them that they had gone all the way to a tourist trap. That is not at all why I would have gone to Vietnam. I suppose their attitude to Vietnam is like a Canadian going to Florida. No one goes to these places for the culture or history.
  • Thursday, which is the Wednesday of my work week, I woke up feeling dead tired. Tony's going to school downtown requires me to leave the house at 7:30 every morning on days when I won't return till 9:45 at night. I admit that my days are not so busy. I am no where near as busy as I was during my time at Loomis and DHL, but I am up a long time all the same.
  • Live not by lies! I don't have the courage to live this way. I am scared to say anything when lies are spoken in my presence. I don't deserve freedom. Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?
  • To live in China as long as I have: ten years, is to tolerate lies.
  • On a Friday, the forecast was for rain which meant that I wasn't going to chance using the e-bike to get to the Metro station. I still had to make a trip to the e-bike's parking spot to umplug it because I still had it recharging. And it was just as I was walking back to the apartment from the e-bike that I felt drops of rain and felt I had made the right decision to not take the e-bike. But there was a lull in the rain, and Tony doubted my decision. But as the shuttle bus pulled up near the Metro station and we got off, it was raining buckets.
  • And then as we left the Nanchang station so I could go to work and Tony could go to his summer school, we saw that Zhongshan Road was dry and that not a speck of rain had fallen there. Hui Shan District, where I live, is far from Zhongshan Road.
  • President Obama's answer to the question about the four American hostages not being released by the Iranians despite his deal with them was very telling. Obama was staggered by the question and his eventual response, after the stagger of silence, was to be insulted by the question.
  • Long Dung II. In one of the two HyLite men's room stalls behind the squatter's hole, another big load of shit, that was nauseating to behold, had been deposited. Did someone bring their horse to the bathroom? I felt sorry for the janitor (a.k.a. I.E.) who had to clean it.
  • I have chosen to be boring, not because I have decided to become conventional but because I lack courage.
  • Tony and his friend Steven had a sleepover at our apartment. They played Minecraft on my Ipad and my Iphone.
  • I wonder if some of the guys in my office still do sleepovers. It wouldn't surprise me.
  • I'll say it again. I dislike Wuxi's summer humidity.
  • Why do middle-aged and older Wuxi women seem to dress in a manner that makes them look like warthogs? Is it that they want their appearance to revolt and frighten others?
  • Friendship. What is that? Is it something one should seek?
  • Teppanyaki is alright. What is teppanyaki? A Japanese style of cooking when patrons sit around a grill and have a cook prepare their dishes right in front of them. And there is now such a restaurant at the Wanda near Casa K.
  • What to make of the Iran -- USA nuclear deal? I don't know enough about the Middle East to have an opinion. But my instinct is to distrust it because Obama is notoriously anti-American in his foreign policy. He seems to prefer America's enemies at the expense of its friends.
  • I finished reading two travel books written my an Englishwoman ME Durham who was able to tour the Balkan area in the early 20th century before the start of the Great War. She was able travel to places that seemed hundreds of years out of the 20th century. It was the kind of travel I would like to do. Instead, I am stuck witnessing the Chinese acquire cars and build shopping malls. The furthest I can go back in time is when I see some of the migrant workers in Wuxi. They seem to have come of the 1950s. [Lloyd Lofthouse, a Chicom apologist whose blog entries I subscribe to, said that some poverty has been in China for hundreds of years and it is not fair to blame the Chicoms for it. So, maybe these migrant workers I see are hundreds of years from the 21st century.]
  • Maybe I should get back to telling the one or two readers I have about Nicolás Gómez Dávila  quotes that seem quite apt. Here is #2390 from my collection: The people with whom we speak every day and our favorite authors cannot belong to the same zoological species. My favorite writers include David Warren, Anthony Esolen, Father Schall, and of course Dávila. I know no one who likes these authors. And so there seems no point in talking to anyone in Wuxi about anything.
  • One night as I was taking the subway home from work, I got annoyed at a mother and child. The pair sat beside me and the child couldn't stop saying “laowai!” I was trying to read and I had been full of dark thoughts on account of a recent spat with Jenny and recent classes with annoying students; so I frowned at the woman and told her to shut up “her fucking kid!” When the child persisted, I did it again. Feeling sheepish on account of what I know now and even knew then was imprudent behavior, I tried to concentrate on the book I was reading which ironically enough was written by Joseph Ratzinger. I looked up from my book a few instances to see if I was being stared at by the onlookers but I couldn't tell.
  • Since Jenny bought her e-bike, I have been using the old e-bike to go to the metro station. My one fear is that it will rain heavily while the bike is parked outside.
  • At the Nanchang station, I saw a pair of hipster foreigners trying to buy subway tickets. How did I know they were hipsters? The male had one of those long Grizzly Adams beards that I have noticed many professional athletes sporting recently. The female, I assumed was hip, but really she looked non-descript and unexotic in comparison to Asian girls.
  • I had a student tell me that he had been shocked to see foreign couples on the Wuxi Metro engaging in public displays of affection. He asked me why this was. I told him basically that there had been a change in culture in the West and that young foreign lovers now were no longer capable of controlling their passions and also no longer capable to committing themselves to each other beyond the most recent act of groping or fornication.
  • I read reactionary and conservative blogging every day; and lately, I have been wondering what is the point of me doing so since I am in China and living an isolated life where there is no opportunities for me to discuss the issues with anyone anyhow.
  • I had to explode at a listless student who was going, in a week, to board a plane to Canada where she was going to go to high school. I had to ask her if she even wanted to go given her ignorance of Canada which seemed to reveal a lack of interest. She said it was her parents idea to go.
  • In a salon class, I asked the students what education was supposed to do, and they told me it was supposed to do all these wonderful things to make people so wonderful and thoughtful and able to live a productive life I then asked if the Chinese education system provided these things, and the students say it provided none of them. [Not to say that the Western system is doing that much better. Our system is pumping out infantilized adults who glorify in their craziness and lack of morals]
  • As the 637 shuttle bus was approaching our stop one morning (I didn't take the e-bike on account of it raining), I saw an impatient and stupid Chinese driver who was following the bus decide to pass it on its passenger side. I didn't let this happen because I walked onto the road to board the bus. The driver seeing this and not wanting to wait, rapidly steered his wheels so he could pass the bus on the other side
  • Is the Western way of driving any better? In some ways, I can say it isn't because you can feel confined in traffic when you follow the rules, and if it wasn't for courtesy from other drivers, you can be stuck a long time trying to make a turn. In China, you can expect drivers to give you some courtesy, but unfortunately the courtesy of a driver to another driver does not redound to drivers giving pedestrians courtesy and so you have drivers thinking it is okay to pass a bus on its passenger side when it is trying to pick up passengers, and drivers thinking it is okay as well to cut off pedestrians so they can make right or left turns.
  • Because Tony was hogging my Ipad on the train, I was able to read, on my Ipod, Nicolás Gómez Dávila aphorism # 2453: A prolonged childhood—permitted by industrial society’s current prosperity—redounds merely in a growing number of infantilized adults. I am sure I have commented on this aphorism before. And I hope I said that I agreed with it, that I mentioned I had seen the evidence of it with my own eyes, and that I was certainly one of these infantilized adults myself. And I probably can't take any solace for myself from the fact that I do feel some shame on account of this being so.
  • I had the runs in July. Every morning, I sit on the toilet in order to rid myself of the liquidy workings of my stomach.
  • The last Sunday of July, I went with Tony to Shanghai to visit with the reigning two-time Shanghai Expat of the year Paul Rudkin. The three of us went to the Shanghai Railway Museum, then Mister Pancake, then the Shanghai Maglev Museum and finally Paul's pad near the Longyang Road Subway Station. That's what we did more or less. For the next bunch of bullets, I will relate the interesting points of the day.
  • It was hot and humid for us in Shanghai. I asked Paul how he liked summer there and he told he hated it. It was his first summer in Shanghai after having spent many in Korea. Tony was complaining a lot when we were walking around in the outside. I had sweat sting my eyes although it was Tony's whining that was more annoying. The humidity made us all lazy and so the trip had to social and not so much of a sightseeing tour.
  • The two museums were okay, though I wouldn't recommend them if you weren't a train fan. It was our second visit to the Shanghai Train Museum and our first to the Maglev Museum. The Shanghai Train Museum didn't contain many English signs. The Maglev Museum did and for its price – free – it was worth a look.
  • The sights very much worth seeing in Shanghai in summer were the girls. Lots and lots of lovely legs did Paul and I see. Talking about these sights, I learned from Paul that Shanghai men have a prejudice against girls who are not from Shanghai. Paul told me about a time that he was with a Shanghai colleague when a girl who was a real looker came into their presence. Paul pointed out the girl to the colleague but when the girl spoke, the colleague was really turned off by her Anhui accent. The Shanghairen wouldn't contemplate going out with a girl who wasn't from Shanghai, no matter how good looking she was.
  • I learned from Paul that the 16th line of the Shanghai Subway had a problem. The planners underestimated the number of riders and built train consists that were only about three cars long. They can't add cars for at least 22 months because the cars built were of a special gauge and size and the manufacturers couldn't fit the orders till then.
  • I have been told that only three lines in the Shanghai Subway system make money.
  • Compared to Shanghai, Wuxi's metro seems nicer. Wuxi's system is less crowded and less dingy; it's cars and turnstiles are more modern.
  • I was able to use my Wuxi subway pass in Shanghai.
  • Paul told me that he was very frustrated with his attempts to get around the Great Chinese Firewall. The powers that be, he says, are making it harder.
  • From an article by Theodore Dalrymple in Taki's Magazine: If I had my way (which, fortunately for the world, is rather unlikely), I should make it a criminal offense to take a child to a MacDonald’s restaurant. If someone were to tell me that children love those restaurants, I should reply, “But that is precisely why it should be a criminal offense.” Theodore Dalrymple is one of my favorite writers on the Internet and I take Tony to MacDonald's a lot. So that passage is a slap in my face. But I deserve and I should at least try to make Tony learn to eat Vegetables.
  • One Monday, I stood in nude in my humid apartment and my body glistened with sweat from my forehead to my stomach. I tried to point this out to Jenny. “Look at me!” I said, but she said I was fat. “But look at how I glisten!” I said. “Well, that's because you're fat!”
  • A day of sweating in Shanghai put the end to my runs and my shits became more solid.
  • I had a big scare at the Shanghai Railway Station when Tony accompanied me to the WC. He disappeared on me in a split instant. I saw him, looked another way, and turned back to not see him. And for a minute I couldn't see him, and I looked around, frantically calling his name. I was never so relieved as to hear him respond.
  • Another writer I admire, though I only agree with him 90 percent of the time, John Derbyshire said he was supporting Donald Trump. His reasoning was that Trump wasn't a professional politician. Fair enough, I thought, and I tried to be more sympathetic to the Donald. But revelations have shown that the Donald had really hadn't been much of a conservative and had donated money to professional politicians on the Democratic side of the aisle. And I have thought of another reason to not support the Donald: he is from another class that rightly needs to be despised as much as the professional politician class: the celebrity class. The Donald is famous in the manner of Hilary Clinton: he has made a name for himself without accomplishing anything impressive enough to qualify him to be president.
  • Hilary Clinton is a member of two despised classes: the professional politician and the celebrity class.
  • I watch a lot of movies but I spare rare readers my reviews of them, for the most part. I recently watched a movie from 1972, Pocket Money, starring Paul Newman and Lee Marvin, which I enjoyed it a lot. Newman looked cool and I thought that he and Marvin had great chemistry. But the reviewers, I learned from the Internet, panned it. Shows what I or the critics know.
  • A typical day in July 2015. I wake up at 6:00 AM. I take Tony, via e-bike or bus and Wuxi Metro to his downtown summer school at 7:30 AM. We get there about 8:30 AM. If my work starts at 1:00 PM, I head back home where I have 90 minutes to do some things before returning downtown. I finish work usually at 9:00 PM. I take the train and then e-bike it or walk home around 10:00 PM. I go to bed before midnight.
  • More about that teenage female student who is going to Canada and whose flight to Toronto was to leave in two days. I asked her if she was excited. She said she wasn't in a ho-hum manner. I asked her if she would miss her friends. She said she was going to see them next summer so she wasn't sad at all. Asking her what she knew about Canada, she couldn't tell me who the Prime Minister of Canada was even though I had told her three or four times before.
  • This is what I found out about the details of her living arrangements in Canada. She will be accompanied by parents and a grandmother. Her meals will be cooked for her. So I figure she will not assimilate. Not that that is a bad thing, for Canada is a silly place these days, lacking in morals or common sense. But her lack of interest in Canada is coming from a materialist Chinese culture created by the excesses of Communism and Crony Capitalism. All she wants to do is play computer games and chat on WeChat or QQ. Confucian? She wouldn't know who that was.
  • Tony thought my e-bike had been stolen. I had parked it in a bike lane in the morning when I took him to school and so he was expecting to see it there at suppertime when Mom was taking him home. But what I had done while he was going to school was take the e-bike home and then park it in a different place. But his thoughts and concern were interesting.
  • Lacklustre company class. What to do? What to do? [Could it be that the Chinese speak such bad English because all the teachers they have, be they Chinese or native speaker, are awful?]
  • My mother told me that in a certain municipality in Canada, house owners, with driveways and without cars, are renting their driveways to those who have cars, and so the government is getting in on this but insisting that these transactions be taxed. When will they start insisting that garage sales be taxed as well? This is what government in Canada is now. Sad.
  • I like the days when I am able to use the e-bike to get to the Metro Station and back. It is much faster than walking home (though not as good exercise) and taking the shuttle bus. Charging the e-bike is a chore however because I do have to park the bike on the other end of the apartment complex, far from Casa K; and because I have to hope there is a empty spot where I can charge and park the e-bike. Despite the many cars in Wuxi, there are still a lot of e-bikes taking up parking space. This is especially noticeable at the Wuxi Metro Station where I often have to ride through a narrow gauntlet of parked e-bikes to find a parking spot. When driving the e-bike, I have figured out that the best time to make a turn is on the green left signal. When a car is tailing me in the apartment complex laneway, I hold my ground and make the vehicle slow down.
  • I find I lack focus these days. I cannot concentrate on what I am doing at the moment and I find I am looking ahead to doing other things; and when I am doing these other things that I had been looking ahead to doing, I find I am further looking ahead to doing yet more other things.
  • Working for wages and welfare dependency are both forms of slavery. While I am fortunate to have never been on welfare, I have been a wage slave all my life: a nigger by choice.
  • A student tells me that someone's wife owns KTVs and thus runs a prostitution ring. Jenny has confirmed that this is the case.
  • A rude action on the Wuxi Metro I would say is to lay oneself down on the seats and take a nap. I have seen this done at least three times including the second last evening of July. I thought to take a photo of the gentleman doing this and publish on my WordPress blog.
  • Tony really hates walking. On the last Friday of July when I took him to the Yanqiao Metro Station, he insisted that I park the e-bike close to the station entrance. It had been my habit to park on the other end of the parking area far from the entrance.
  • At the end of July, it seems like the trip to Canada happened longer than just a month previous. Do I want to move back there? It seems that I more I hem and haw about it, and the older I get, the less sense it makes to go back. I don't have the resources and the energy and the dumb optimism like I had when I moved to Wuxi from Canada, and previously to British Columbia from Winnipeg, or before that, when I moved to Winnipeg from Brandon.
  • July was a month of students telling me they had lots of summer homework to do.
  • No news about Greece as the month ended.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Happy Birthday Father!


It would have been Arnis's 83rd Birthday this July 23.

Oh, how I often forget his birthday when he was alive!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

AKIC's Canada Trip Notes: June 2015 in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Brandon

    [Some pre-trip thoughts.]
  • To think that humans are bad because they go to war is to miss the point entirely about war.  War is a good thing because humans are so bad.
  • It seems that we are going to have the indignity of having no one come to meet us at the Winnipeg Airport.
  • The family and relatives I had are disintegrating into nothing. The older ones are dying off and I never had much dealings with the younger ones who live out of Winnipeg.
  • Great argument against abortion because of rape.  "I'm sorry innocent one but your father is a rapist and so we are going to have to kill you!"
    [The following was typed inVancouver]
  • Nightmare at Pudong:  Paperwork problems cost us 16,000 RMB.  So, I fly to Canada by myself. Jenny & Tony take a flight the next day.
  • Just before we encountered the problem, we were waiting in line to check in.  Behind us, young twenty-something foreigners who sounded Canadian kept using "like" and "fuck" in their conversation.  No consideration for the people around them.
  • Angela, a ex-student, in Wuxi now living in Vancouver, picks me up at the airport. I had to use a payphone to contact her. She lives near the airport in a house that has four bathrooms and a huge yard. We will be staying with her before we fly out to Winnipeg.
  • I am going to have to get a Chinese driving license.  Because I don't work in BC anymore, I can't renew my driver's license there. This I was told at an ICBC licensing office in Richmond.  However, I learned that I could drive with a valid Chinese driver's license in Canada and that if I moved back to Canada, I could change it to Canadian.
  • But this leaves me with the problem of having a valid photo ID so I could renew my passport.  For that, it looks like I will have to get a proof of Canadian citizenship certificate.  But does it solve the problem of my having a valid photo ID other than my passport? [Perhaps, my Chinese driving license can be my photo ID.]
  • Are humans to conform to the system or should the system serve the needs of humans?  Needing pieces of paper just so you can do something that isn't criminal is galling.  I made a mistake and have to suffer more that someone who performs an act with criminal intentions.
  • Richmond, a suburb of Van, seems a lot smaller than Wuxi.  The buildings are not as tall, the roads are not as wide and the subway train is only four cars long (compared to the twenty car long Wuxi Metro.)
  • Still the sky is so blue!
  • I watched the ninth episode of Game of Thrones.  I knew the dragons would save the Queen or as I think of her:  blonde girl with the dragons.  I also foresaw that the Queen mother, or as I call her the mother of Jodfrey, was going to be thrown in the clink by the religious sect.
  • Angela and I meet Tony & Jenny at the airport.
  • We will try to get a Chinese visa for Tony although it won't be necessary for Tony to get back to China. He was given a exit and entry permit so he could leave China. [We went to the Visa offices but they couldn't give us same day service, it turned out.]
  • Damn! I had a great thought but I forgot what it was.
  • One way in which China exceeds Canada is that Chinese can buy liquor in their grocery stores while in Canada, you have to go to specially designated beer stores or government liquor stores.
  • You can buy pineapple beer in Vancouver though!
  • I saw many typical British Columbians in the shopping mall where I tried to renew my BC driver's license.
  • How has jet lag affected me? I didn't fall asleep till after 2:00 AM.
  • It is only right and proper that we feel guilt about the things we did and may have done wrong.
    [The following was typed while on the plane the plane from Vancouver to Winnipeg]
  • The Vancouver Back Door of the Bus Thank You! Riding the bus in Van, I first saw one guy get off the bus at the back door and say “Thank You!” to the driver as he did so. I thought it was strange. Then the next passenger getting off the bus at the back door thanked the driver. I thought it was just two oddballs doing it. I was in BC after all. But then everyone getting off the bus by the back door did it. Woh! I thought so polite. Jenny & Tony noticed this, and when we got off the bus, at the back door, Tony loudly said thank you!
  • Bus baby troller procedure: when mothers and strollers get on the bus, special accommodations are made for them and seats are folded away.
  • Politeness has me on edge. I feel the need to modify all my thank you's with an intensifying adverb.
  • Anxiety about weight of bags. One airline service person from Westjet asked me how much my bags weighed andI said I didn't know but that we had gotten them all the way from China. The limit was 50 pounds (why no metric? Not that I am complaining.) Two of our bags were just under 50 pounds. One came in at 38.
  • Security before domestic flight in Vancouver was more intense than when going through security at Shanghai. Jenny has metal in her shoe that caused her to spend extra time with the metal detector people.
  • So many laowai in Vancouver. They looked Canadian and spoke with Canadian accents but seemed so foreign to me.
  • Rode the skytrain. I have ridden subways in Mexico City, Chicago, Vancouver, Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuxi.
  • Tony would rather play Minecraft then look out at the window at the gorgeous scenery. He was even that way on the Skytrain.
  • My Macbook Pro is a little big for the plane. It doesn't fit on the fold out tray.
  • Tony likes his bacon and hash browns. I have given him all of mine from my meals.
  • Weather was gorgeous in Van. Too bad, we were only there for three days.
  • Watched a video with Father from 2010. He said he hated mountains because they blocked the view of the sky. [He said he also hated Winnipeg because it was a big city.]
    [The following was typed while I was in Winnipeg]
  • Someone – My brother Ron – met us at the airport after all.
  • I drove a car for the first time since May and June of 2012. Funny, how nerve wracking it is to get into the driver's seat only to then to have it seem like riding a bicycle.
  • The first evening in Winnipeg we went to a cousin's place for dinner.
  • We are staying at my brother Ron's house.
  • Tony has fallen in love with his uncle Ron's Xbox 360 and the GTA game which I have him playing with the mute button turned on.
  • The first full day in Winnipeg, the three of us all got up at 11:15 AM. As soon as we had breakfast and got ready, we went to a Walmart Super-Center on Taylor Avenue. There was so much I wanted that I had to tell myself to want nothing. The food section was mouth watering. I restricted myself to buying a 500 ml tub of cottage cheese. (I asked Jenny to try that and she didn't care for it.)
  • Coming back then to my brother Ron's house, I got stuck for the first time in over ten years as a driver in a traffic jam. I wanted to get back on Pembina Highway from Harrow Avenue but I was in behind ten other cars trying to do the same thing. It took a while for me to get to the stop sign and then the traffic kept coming and coming so that I didn't think I would ever be able to make a right turn. What was really annoying was that there was a parking lot just up the road where cars would take advantage of the break in traffic to make their right turns and thus take a chance away from you. One of these cars did let me turn but it was Jenny who noticed this. The road from Harrow to the turnoff near Royce Avenue, where my brother's house was, was filled with bumper to bumper traffic. [This makes me reconsider the Chinese habit of turning right without looking. How I wish this could be done in Canada.]
  • I have a few people I want to pay a visit to in Winnipeg. On the Friday night, I was able to get a hold of Ed Chalmers, my reservist buddy who is now a policeman in Winnipeg.
  • Cousin Pat, actually husband of my cousin Edie (pronounced E D: that is you pronounce them as letters), is a fiscal reactionary.  He has been retired for over twenty years and doesn't go out much, out of choice.  He says the world is going to shit.  Case in point, he says, America's huge debt.
  • And after riding around Winnipeg and spending time at the Polo Park shopping centre, I am very inclined to agree with Pat, although not for fiscal reasons.  At the food court there, I saw so many fat and badly-dressed people.  And the ones who were in shape looked to have spent too much time in the gym, which only showed how decadent the civilization was becoming either due to overeating or being overly concerned with body image.
  • Not one really knockout local woman had I seen.
  • On Saturday, we went to the Forks and Polo Park where we did too much shopping.
  • Saturday, we also drove past the new Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium and I saw as the reports had indicated that there was no parking. Pat also told me that 30 million dollars was going to be needed to repair the thing after one year of operation.
  • I drove past the recently constructed Museum of Human Rights.  Pat had said it was ugly.  Under his influence, I thought it looked like a Wuxi white elephant.
  • Saturday for supper, we went to an Italian restaurant on Corydon avenue.  We didn't have a reservation so we had from 5:00 to 630 to eat our meal.  The place seemed undermanned.  Our waitress dealt with us brusquely. Jenny enjoyed her salmon. My lasagna was too much.
  • In Polo Park, they had a shop that sold music CDs and movie DVDs. I thought everyone got that stuff off the Internet now.
  • There was a shop at Polo Park for white trash culture called Spencer's.
  • Tony was very irritable. The whole time in Polo Park. He was always wanting to go to a computer or toy store.
  • We went to Assiniboine Park on Sunday. There was a lack of signs, we thought, as we drove around looking for the zoo and the mini railway. And it just so happened that it was complained about by the owner of this mini railway that we wanted to go to for Tony. Just as we walked to its ticket office, the owner said business at his railway was slow because a lot of tourists didn't know of it. I told the owner I only knew of the mini railway because I had ridden in years gone by. And as I mentioned that I was living in China, the owner talked and talked to me and he had me thinking I was becoming a slow talker after all my years in Wuxi.
  • At the Assiniboine Park Zoo, a lot of animals were hiding because of the hot weather. Tony did see a polar bear swimming at least.
  • Mosquitoes! Worse than Wuxi!
  • Two pretty girls – Asian – entered the Tim Hortons as I was having coffee with the ex King of Wuxi.
  • No more pennies in Canada.  When paying cash, prices are rounded to the nearest nickel.  Inflation continues.
  • Mobile phones are more expensive in Manitoba than Wuxi.  The former King of Wuxi said that in Wuxi, he and his wife both had mobile phones but that in Winnipeg, only his wife had a mobile because of the price and the restrictions of contracts.
    [The following was typed in Brandon]
  • It was a two hour drive to get Brandon on Monday. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. I was in pain when I arrived with my butt sore and my leg all so stiff.
  • Before leaving for Brandon, I had coffee at a Stella's with Trevor Kraft who I knew at DHL-slash-Loomis in British Columbia.
  • I wanted to buy a burner phone to use for two weeks in Brandon but it was just too expensive. When it comes to mobile, they do it better in China. You can buy a sim card and phone cheap in China.
  • I visited my father's grave side after supper on my first day in Brandon. My first time to see the grave stone in person. I will try to visit it every day while I am here in Brandon.
  • Second day in Brandon, we – that being the Kaulins family – went shopping. First the family went to Mark's Work Warehouse where I bought two pants for work and a pair of jeans. Then, we went to a nearby Walmart where Jenny and my Mom bought stuff, and Tony whined about being hungry so I took him to the in-store McDonalds. He had chicken nuggets and I, for the first time in years, had a quarter pounder. The fries that came with it were too much. Later, just Jenny & I went to a Dollarama. Jenny bought some things she thought she needed and I bought four brands of chocolate bars that I couldn't get in China: Smarties, Glosette Raisins, Skor, and Wunderbar (Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!)
  • I had to accompany Tony to the bathroom at Walmart because he had to go poo. In the men's room, there were two urinals and a toilet which was occupied. Tony was noisy and impatient, and even looked under the door to see if anyone was in the toilet. When the person came out, it turned out that he was an old man, and he said something to me about his being old and slow to which I could only say that someone had to learn to be patient. Tony then took his time in the toilet and so there were two men waiting. But then the cleaner came in and told us that there were more toilets and urinals in the back of the store. I told him I was just waiting for my son to finish, but he repeated himself. “There are three urinals and two more toilets in the back of the store!”
  • Lots and lots of obese and old people at the Walmart.
  • Also at Walmart, I made an appointment to see an eye doctor because I wanted to see someone I could talk to in English and so get proper glasses. The only catch was that it could have taken a week or more for me to have had the eyeglasses made and I may have had to get my brother to mail them to me in China. [It turned out that I got my glasses on the day before I was to leave Brandon.]
  • I have seen people of all races in Manitoba: Africans, Latinos, Asians and Aboriginals.
  • I have brought Ron's X-box to Brandon because Tony likes it so much. He especially likes the GTA game. He also plays Minecraft on it using a disc which I have purchased in Winnipeg. [It was either that or buy him a much more expensive Minecraft Lego set.]
  • I got myself eyeglasses at Walmart. They were bloody expensive because I needed progressive lenses. The doctor said that one of my eyes was higher on my face than the other, and so he asked me if I had ever suffered head trauma. I told I'm didn't and thinking about it afterwards, I was sure I told the truth. All this was useful to know because I wouldn't have learned it in China. The last glasses I had made in Wuxi were shite.
  • Storm rolling in while we were at the Real Canadian Superstore was cool to see. What a contrast between the black cloud of the incoming storm and the bright, blue, clean sky.
  • Soccer in Brandon: at a field near my Mom's, a game was played by Africans and Middle Easterners. Maybe one fellow was white.
  • Almost bought a pair of Duracell ear buds, but changed my mind at the last minute. I have to resist and resist...
  • Went to a second hand store that was near the Superstore. It depressed me.
  • Tony called the Superstore the Stupid Store
  • Went to see Mad Max Fury Road at a nearby multiplex cinema which had an arcade but no human ticket sellers. I bought a large popcorn and two large drinks; and Jenny was impressed by the pail like size of the drink containers.
  • As soon as I got to my seats in the cinema, I had a let down feeling. The experience was too expensive. The popcorn wasn't fresh. The atmosphere was impersonal. I vowed to never see a movie in a Canadian cinema ever again.
  • The movie itself approached Fast and Furious levels of implausibility. The movie makers wanted as much chase in the desert as possible.
  • Tony went to the bathroom three times during the movie.
  • I watched the Chicago Black Hawks defeat the Tampa Bay team to win the Stanley Cup. It was during the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 that father died.
  • We went for one afternoon to Minnedosa, a small town about 45 km North of Brandon. The drive there through green flat fields was pleasant enough except for a ten minute stop caused by construction.
  • Summer means road construction in Manitoba. The winters and the wide range of temperatures destroys them.
  • The drive to Minnedosa was also ruined by an unexpected school zone speed warning on a provincial highway. The radar sign indicated the car's speed and made me wonder if we had gotten a ticket.
  • Minnedosa was a nice little town.
  • We would stop at three places there.
  • We first went to a park downtown, climbed on an old train car and caboose, and posed for photos by an old Sherman tank.
  • I saw a bald headed man with tattoos and sunglasses strutting on the Minnedosa Main Street as I was trying to get to Minnedosa Lake.
  • We finally found the lake and I saw the bald headed man walking nearby it. Near a beach, there was a playground to which Tony happily ran to to be among a bunch of what I learned were pre-schoolers who were celebrating the end of the school year. I talked to an older women there who had first talked to Jenny. She told me that she was there with a two year old niece of hers. She also told me of twin boys in her family who were graduating from high school that day and who were six foot three. One of them had suffered a stroke when he was 14 months old. I gave the woman a yuan coin to give to someone.
  • From the playground we went to another playground where we picnicked. I saw some high school students nearby who were dressed in suits and gowns for their graduation photos. A little later, there was a motor boat towing a water skier in the lake.
  • I then saw two sights as well that sickened and annoyed me. First, there was this greasy long haired man with tattoos and no shirt riding his mountain bike. Then, there was a group of five young men who hung out at beach and boat launch and seemed up to no good. I was happy when they pulled away. Manitobans can be friendly and yet there is that white trashy element to them. When I drove Jenny and Tony to our third stop, a nearby dam, I saw a beer can that must have been tossed from the vehicle of the five rowdies.
  • We saw the bald man walking again as we pulled into a park by a dam. We walked on the dam which made for some nice photos, past some babbling brooks and then into marsh land.
  • We returned to Brandon and weren't stopped by construction. As I drove, Jenny took some great video of the sky. That damn school zone where there were no kids caught me speeding again .
  • Trying to make a left turn in Minnedosa was annoying because these big pickup trucks would pull beside me to make a right turn and obscure my vision, thus preventing me from making a left turn.
  • Back in Brandon, we went to a Value Village. I was tempted to buy books by Sarah Palin and Rex Murphy. [Value Village is a thrift store chain. We had gone to one in Winnipeg as well.]
  • After dinner, we went to father's grave to place some new flower pots. Mom said that ones she had laid previously had been stolen.
  • Then we went to Canadian Tire: an hardware chain that is as much an institution in Canada as Tim Horton's. It is in fact older than Tim Horton's. No Canadian tire caps for sale alas....
  • Three types of garbage cans provided by the city at my mom's house. I wonder how types of garbage cans, they have in the swankier parts of Brandon. Five? Seven?
  • As a reactionary, it is my duty to mock these things and remain ignorant of what the different colored lidded cans are for.
  • The world has become less humane. Humans have to adapt to the system, not the system to people is the governing ethos these days.
  • I watched some television news and was appalled by the left-wing orientation. Listening to the results of the SCOTUScare decision, all that was said was that the decision was about whether millions of Americans would be able to afford health insurance.
  • I had coffee with Raymond Pero who I have known since 1982. How to describe Ray? First off, Raymond is a nice guy, of low status, with a ghoulish laugh. I couldn't help every time I met him to make off-color jokes to get him to giggle.
  • Surprisingly to me anyway, Raymond is a father. He got some native girl pregnant and now his twenty year old son is working at a McDonald's in Winnipeg. Ray and the girl are separated.
  • Ray's parents have both passed away and they are both buried in the same cemetery as my father.
  • Ray is still a reservist private after all these years. I gave up the ghost as far as a military career when I realized I could never be an officer and would never get beyond corporal in the ranks.
  • Ray gave me some updates from people I remember from my days in the reserves. Some have died like then Lieutenant Thompson who later became the CO of my regiment. Another young lieutenant from my time is now retired and is a curator at the Shilo museum. A third, this sinister fellow who was only good to share a complaint with was now in a mental home.
  • Opened up a Smarties box and thought it strange that it had three compartments inside.
  • I hate driving and I hate flying, I can tell you on account of this trip.
  • Saturday morning in Brandon, I took Jenny to some garage sales where she bought a few things to take back to China. I saw a set of books about the Simpsons that I would have liked to have purchased but didn't because of worries of weight restrictions for our return flight to China. At one of the sales, we saw a family of Chinese who were from the Northeast as I suspected and as Jenny confirmed when I asked her. Another home had about 50,000 hockey and other sports cards for sale. They were from the 1990s and the time of the great sports cards memorabilia bubble.
  • Brother Ron came from Winnipeg for our Brandon weekend and told me that we (that being Jenny, Tony & I) didn't like doing interesting things. Tony only liked playing computer games, I only liked reading and Jenny only liked shopping. True enough and yet what we going to do? Go Fishing? Biking? Driving? That one trip to Minnedosa I did take tired me out.
  • I regret that I won't be able to see all my cherished acquaintances in Winnipeg. We came at the wrong time. Weekdays, everyone has to work and weekends, everyone already has plans. The logistics of meeting them wearies me as well.
  • I didn't visit my sister in BC this trip. I learned from my Mom that Benita is not too pleased but someone was going to have to be disappointed this trip.
  • I have told my mother that she should sell the house in Brandon. I can't see myself coming back here except to visit my father's grave site. It may well be that I may never see it again after this trip...
  • My memories of Brandon are ultimately bitter. I have some good memories of my last year of high school, which was my first year in Brandon, but even then I can recall there were bouts of loneliness and not feeling that I belonged that would haunt the rest of my days in Brandon and in Winnipeg and still to this day in China. I wandered the halls of Brandon University, for four years, lonely and lost. I went to the University of Winnipeg to try to correct those times instead of giving up on the educational establishment as I should have... My times in the Militia with all the assholes and the drinking unsheltered me from any youthful idealism I had.
  • My telling my Mom to sell the house in Brandon seems selfish in a way because it ultimately repudiates my father who was obstinately happy to live the rest of his days in Brandon.
  • Ron, Tony & I went to Shilo's Royal Canadian Artillery museum. Shilo, which is about 15 km from Brandon and where I lived on two separate occasions, was not as I remembered it. It seemed smaller and some new roads, which disoriented me, had been built.
  • After the museum, we drove to Quebec Crescent where the PMQ we had lived in 1976-77 was no longer standing. The area behind the PMQ where we would wander didn't look the same at all. In my memory, it was more open.
  • I ran in Bruce Tripp, an unforgettable figure from my reservist days, at a Beer Store. Go figure.
  • Our third drive out of Brandon was to Souris which was 47 km south, more or less from Brandon. [Our first small town, Minnedosa, was about 45 km north.]
  • Souris is famous, to those who know of it, for its swinging bridge. I, if I recall correctly, went to the Bridge on a school trip in 1979 or 1980. I have a distinct memory of the kids getting rowdy and swinging the bridge very violently.
  • In Souris, we stopped first at a little rail museum in front of which was a old rail service car where Tony posed for some photos There was also a Moose statue nearby for us to pose by as well. [It dawned on me that were old rail cars and engines on display everywhere in Manitoba.]
  • We then drove to Souris's Victoria Park. The website I had visited earlier in the day said it was a place to go. The park had a bit of a hill to climb, on top of which was a lookout tower made of wood that was wobbly enough to make me a little nervous to climb its stairs. From the lookout, I could see the actual swinging bridge which we couldn't find right away. [It turned out we had passed by it earlier.] Tony got upset because there was a pool that he wanted to swim in but he hadn't brought any swim clothes.
  • We then crossed the swinging bridge and posed for photos thereon, of course. While on the bridge, a Christian couple gave Jenny some pamphlets. They were an older couple who I had seen earlier in Victoria Park. They stood out then because they were dressed in the Mennonite fashion and they walked rather vigorously with beatific smiles on their faces. Jenny was happy to get the pamphlets and didn't know what they were about till later. I was nonetheless glad to see Christians.
  • When a man's mother and a man's wife fight, what is the man to do? What he should want is for his wife and his mother to stop fighting. How he can bring about this goal is another question altogether. The only thing I can think to do is pray for strength.
  • The problem is that I am weak.
  • Amid this squabble, I had beers with Ed Chalmers, an old friend from my 26 Field days and that Ray Pero character. Ed is working in the child sex crime unit of the City of Winnipeg. One story was enough to further sicken me about the world.
  • Tomb desecration of my father's grave? Not quite, but the flower pot that my mother had placed at my father's grave, and that you can see in photos at AKIC wordpress, was missing three days after we had placed it. [It turned out that the workers removed it. Fucking regulations.]
  • For me, the clouds in Brandon are what are worth seeing here. White Cumulo Nimbus clouds soaring against a clean blue sky are quite breathtaking if you have spent as many years in a smoggy Chinese city as I have.
  • The Brandon Shopper's Mall was a strange place in June 2015. Imagine a shopping mall with no anchor stores. The big retail spaces for a grocery store and a big retail department store were empty. The Safeway and the Target having moved out in the year previous. I went there anyway and was impressed with the food court which had a Tim Horton's and A&W. I took Tony to a shop called EB Games that sells games for video game consoles like X-Box and so on. While there, I saw a father bring his boy, who was younger than Tony, into the store. The man had a big gut and was wearing a Kiss rock band t-shirt. Disgusting I thought. Men use to wear suits at one time. [I admit that I dress as badly as that father but I am readily ashamed of myself.]
  • I went to the Manitoba Liquor Commission store. I would have loved to have told those guys to find real jobs. The government liquor monopoly is nonsense! It is another thing for politicians and bureaucrats to screw up. And of course you have to drive to get to it.
  • Brandon's population is about 45,000. I had told my students that it was around 30,000. So in my lifetime, Brandon has grown by a sizable percentage. When it had less people though, it had its own television station, its own local newspaper published in the city and it probably had train service. Now, you need a car to get about and the city might as well be a obscure suburb in Winnipeg, what with all its parking lots and strip malls.

[The following was typed in Wuxi.]
  • I took Tony to a public outdoor swimming pool in Brandon. He waded for an hour and told me he wanted to go home. His timing was impeccable because as soon as he was dressed, it began to rain.
  • On Thursday, a rain storm was heavy enough to cause my Mom's basement to flood. This hadn't happened in the years that I and my brother Ron had lived in the house, but a great flood in Brandon in about 2009 started the problem which has resulted in insurance companies suspending the sale of flood insurance in Brandon.
  • Friday about lunchtime, we left Brandon. I said good bye to Mom and then good bye to Father (Dad's gravestone was our last stop in Brandon). Tony had to ruin the moment by insisting on playing the IPad instead of paying proper attention to his grandmother and grandfather.
  • From Brandon, it was a two hour drive on the Number One Highway to Winnipeg. The drive was marred slightly by my being boxed in by other cars. At least five times, I found myself the situation where I was doing 110 kmh with cruise control approaching a car ahead of me doing 108 kmh while in my rear a car doing 111 kmh was overtaking me. The car passing me wasn't going fast enough and so I found myself closing in on the car ahead of me and thus having to get out of cruise control.
  • It was also annoying to listen to the radio as I drove to Winnipeg. On a country station where I kind of hoped they knew better, they praised the gay marriage court decision in the U.S. “Love is love!” said one of the radio talkers. What the hell does that mean? I thought to myself.
  • Switching the station, I heard an interview with an artiste who was talking about conversation circles. Apparently, a group of people sit in a circle and talk, one at a time, as a way of expressing their feelings. The artiste was hoping to get a grant to continue on with her art work. [Driving to Brandon on the #1 Highway, I listened to the CBC and heard an activist advocate the banning of tobacco sales altogether in Canada.]
  • In Winnipeg, it was a rush against the clock for me to see as many old friends as I could. I would succeed in seeing two and not seeing one.
  • Friday night, I meet Arielle (formerly Eric) at a Stella's restaurant in Winnipeg's Osborne Village. It was an experience in many ways. I first had to find a free parking spot and was frustrated by signs that were full of rules and regulations. A parking lot that said parking was a six dollar flat rate during off business hours was empty. I found I had to find Arielle first to show me where to park. Arielle was the midst of a radical change in identity which I didn't know how to deal with, being torn as I was between being of a reactionary mind and being in practice a nice softie afraid of confrontation. Arielle was a troubled soul is about all I can say. First hearing her voice on the phone was startling because it had gone down two octaves. It wasn't before I had a conversation with her on the phone that I could detect traces of Eric's voice.
  • Arielle's appearance was more feminine than I was expecting.
  • Saturday breakfast at the Pancake house with Jenny, Tony & Ron.
  • Saturday afternoon, I went to see another friend from my U of W days: Nicole Firlotte. I told her about Arielle. She told me she had dated Eric back in the day. Now, she was married to a gentleman named Cain (or Kane or Cane or Caine) who had done some interesting things with their house in the Wolseley area of Winnipeg. He had built a pond in front of the house with gold fish in it and a deck that went all around the house.
  • Jenny bought a lot of stuff in China to give to her friends. So I spent my last evening in Canada worrying about luggage weight. I weighed the luggage using my brother Ron's bathroom scale. The procedure involved weighing myself and then weighing myself holding one of our three pieces of luggage. We had to distribute the luggage evenly and then have a lot of carry on bags. We in fact brought five onto the plane.
  • My last meal in Canada was a Mozza Burger at the A&W at the YVR.
  • I buy two big bottles of Crown Royal at the Duty Free.
  • I didn't buy any shoes or books on this trip.
  • How was the trip in three words? Emotional, harrowing and unleisurely. I didn't do everything I hoped I could have done.




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!