Sunday, January 15, 2017

What AKIC Read in 2016

According to my records, I read 97 books this year.

The Liturgical Year (Volume 2) Christmas by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
The Hunter (Victor the Assassin 1) by Tom Wood
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Liturgical Year (Volume 3) Christmas 2 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Fools, Fraud, and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left by Roger Scruton
The Two Gentleman of Verona by William Shakespeare
Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
An Anthology by Josef Pieper
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
The Dyer's Hand & Other Essays by WH Auden
From North Carolina to Southern California Without a Ticket and How I Did It by John Peele
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
The Zurau Aphorisms by Franz Kafka
The Liturgical Year (Volume 4) Septuagesima by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
The Black Ice by Michael Connelly
The Viking Book of Aphorisms edited by WH Auden
First and Last by Hilaire Belloc
Selected Poems by WH Auden
The Liturgical Year (Volume 5) Lent by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Four Quartets by TS Eliot
Poems by William Blake
In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney
Prayer Time: A Collection of Catholic Prayers edited by Father Jua-Diego Brunetta
The Liturgical Year (Volume 6) Passiontide and Holy Week by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
History of the Conquest of Peru by William Hickling Prescott
The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election Of 1896 Still Matters by Karl Rove
The Liturgical Year (Volume 7) Paschal Time Book 1 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
History of the Conquest of Mexico by William Hickling Prescott
The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert
The Turkish Empire, its Growth and Decay By Lord Eversley
Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Liturgical Year (Volume 8) Paschal Time Book 2 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
The Great Game: On Service in High Asia by Peter Hopkirk
The Liturgical Year (Volume 9) Paschal Time Book 3 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by General Robert Edward Lee
Heroes and Hunters of the West by John Frost
Beauties of Tennyson edited by Lady Clara Vere De Vere
Breakfast with Benedict: Daily Readings by Pope Benedict XVI
The Liturgical Year (Volume 10) Time After Pentecost Book 1 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
The Half-Hearted by John Buchan
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
Scenes and Adventures in Afghanistan by William Taylor
The Liturgical Year (Volume 11) Time After Pentecost Book 2 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
The Middle Ages: A Very Short Introduction by Miri Rubin
Benedict XVI: Light of the World A Conversation with Peter Seewald
Poems in Two Volumes (Volume 1) by William Wordsworth
The Liturgical Year (Volume 12) Time After Pentecost Book 3 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Poems in Two Volumes (Volume 2) by William Wordsworth
A Journey through Persia, Armenia, and Asia Minor to Constantinople, in the Years 1808 and 1809 by James Justinian Morier
Puritan's Empire: A Catholic Perspective on American History by Charles A. Coulombe
Valdez is Coming by Elmore Leonard
God or Nothing by Cardinal Robert Sarah
The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Light of the World by James Lee Burke
Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia (Vol. I.) by Sir Austen Henry Layard
The War We Never Fought: The British Establishment's Surrender to Drugs by Peter Hitchens
Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate by Maciej Zieba
Mohammed, The Prophet of Islam by H.E.E. Hayes
The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
The Liturgical Year (Volume 13) Time After Pentecost Book 4 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Catholicism and History: The Opening of the Vatican Archives by Owen Chadwick
Verses 1889-1896 by Rudyard Kipling
The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton
The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous
The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works By Clifton Wolters & Anonymous
Aphorisms by Nicolás Gómez Dávila
Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
Trump Revealed by Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher
Discoveries among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon by Austen H. Layard
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh
The Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F Madden
Officers and Gentlemen by Evelyn Waugh
Wanderings in South America by Charles Waterton
Constantinople: The Story of the Old Capital of the Empire by William Holden Hutton
Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople by Geoffrey de Villehardouin
Unconditional Surrender by Evelyn Waugh
Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwininian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel
Acoustic Ladyland by Kathy Shaidle
Collected Maxims and Other Reflections by Francois De La Rouchefoucauld
The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
The Liturgical Year (Volume 14) Time After Pentecost Book 5 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Heretics by GK Chesterton
The English Governess at the Siamese Court by Anna Harriette Loewens
The God that failed: A Confession by Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Stone, Richard Wright, Andre Gide, Louis Fischer, Stephen Spender
Back from the USSR by Andre Gide
What's Wrong with the World by GK Chesterton
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
The Liturgical Year (Volume 15) Time After Pentecost Book 6 by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution 1966-76 edited by Richard King
The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton
The Liturgical Year (Volume 1) Advent by Abbot Prosper Gueranger
An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Essays by Abraham Cowley edited by Henry Morley
A Year with Thomas Merton by Thomas Merton


Comments? Email AKIC at andiskaulins@qq.com.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Video that AKIC Watched in 2016

As you will see, I didn't watch that many movies in 2016. I watched a lot of television series.

Most of the movies I did watch were old.

I have rated what I saw using the five star rating system.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens *****
Fargo: Season 1 *****
Fargo: Season 2 *****
Bite the Bullet (1975 Hackman, Coburn) ****
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) ****
Ace in the Hole (1951) ****
The Knack and How to Get It (1965) ***
The Birds (1963) ****
The Towering Inferno (1974) ****
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) ****
Kiss Me Kate (1953) *****
Bosch: Season 1 *****
Bosch: Season 2 *****
The Stooge (1951, Martin & Lewis) ****
The Fall: Season 1 ****
The Fall: Season 2 ****
Angry Birds Movie (in the cinema) **
13 Hours (2016) ****
Warcraft (in the cinema) ***
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) *****
Game of Thrones: Season 6 *****
The 300 Spartans (1962) ****
Morituri (Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner) (1965) ****
Stranger Things: Season 1 *****
Young Mister Lincoln (1939) *****
Wrecked (Season 1) ****
Bandwagon (1953) *****
Narcos (Season 1) *****
Narcos (Season 2) *****
Fort Apache (Western 1948) *****
True Detective (Season 1) *****
Ex Machina (2015) ****
Our Man Flint (1966) ****
The King and I (1956) *****
Westworld (Season 1) ****
The Great Wall (in the cinema) ***
The Man in the High Castle (Season 2) *****
Seinfeld (Season 2) *****

Comments?

Email andiskaulins@qq.com

Monday, January 2, 2017

December 2016 Notes

I opened December 2016 with some bouts of road rage that occurred as I took my son Tony to his school in the mornings.

One driver didn't put on their turn signals as they changed lane in front of me. I first tooted my honk for a long stretch at them followed by several shorter blasts.

Another driver was on his mobile phone and as well didn't use his turn signals. I tried to block him in his lane further lane changes as I blared my horn at him.

*

Jenny's natural father has a tumor in his liver I learned on December 1st. A tumor so big that it was sure to explode at any moment.

My wife Jenny has issues with her natural parents because they pawned her off after she was born. She was a third daughter: an unwanted girl.

*

There was a beggar on the Wuxi Metro. I gave her two rmb.

*

Andis Kaulins in Jewish Gematria Equals: 514 (The same as George Soros and rudeness)

Andis Kaulins in English Gematria Equals: 804 (The same as quietly)

Andis Kaulins in Simple Gematria Equals: 134 (The same as words Reagan and Michael Caine)

*

I passed a four car fender-bender one morning as I drove Tony to his school. It happened either because the drivers were riding each other's asses or the driver at the front decided to stop where he shouldn't have.

*

On a day off, I wanted to drive the area around Casa Kaulins but the amount of cars and e-bikes and the stupidity of their drivers was dispiriting.

It was even a sunny day but the haze, probably from pollution, made the area seem grimy and communist.

*

Mad Dog Mattis, Trump's defense secretary, is a warrior monk. Awesome! I say.

There ought to be teacher monks as well instead of the predator pervert types that far too many in education have proven to be.

*

Coming home from work one evening, I saw a man, walking down the street, who was wearing a full length housecoat. I took photos of him – I was walking right behind him – but they were blurry. Passing him and then turning around to look at his front, I saw a middle-aged Chinese man, with a plump Xi Jing Ping style face. He was smoking.

*

I very much have to watch my road rage tendencies. Another person cut me off as I was coming back from having dropped Tony off at school. I made a point of cutting her off and driving slowly so as to slow her down and annoy her back.

*

Tony says he wants to go to school in Canada, he says, because China is boring. How I wish I could arrange that.

Jenny has talked of putting him in an International school but that would be more expensive and involve us having to work harder....

*

Trump ties one on. I am very eager to get student reaction to Trump phone conversation with the Taiwanese president.

With the Taiwanese president being a chick and all, you would think his leftie detractors would give him a break. But women who are not on board with the progressive cause aren't women, at least according to progressives.

[I mentioned Trump in a Speaker's Corner after the Taiwan phone call and one student actually growled in disapproval.]

*

One student at our school – a kid he seems to be – is going to Montreal. He is a little chubby, wears glasses and whines like a teenage girl. His English is not particularly good [I couldn't never have gotten it out of him that he was going to Montreal.] and he sits in classes where he doesn't understand anything at a level much lower than all the other students. I made some attempts to get him to talk but he didn't seem to appreciate the attention. All he does at our school is sit in the library and play games on his computer or on his laptop. He eats lots of junk food for his meals.

If I were his parent, I would beat the living snot out of him. What a waste of a life. What bad effects being affluent in China can have on one's children.

But having him move over is just what Canada deserves.

*

I have seen a wide variety of student personalities in my time. Some students you just not going to like. Really, one should feel sorry for them and not let them get under your skin.

Examples?

The teenage kid with the attitude.

*

I had a one-on-one class with a male student who, like me, has a son in grade three. [My son Tony is in grade three.]

It was a Friday evening so I asked him what he was going to do on the weekend. He told me he was going to take his son to extra classes. I asked if him if he thought this was crazy. He said it was but he had to do it because everyone else was doing it. I asked him if he thought there was any benefit to all the extra classes and he said he didn't think there was.

When it was almost 9:00 PM, I asked him if his wife and his son was doing homework. (Jenny & Tony are doing homework at that time, much to my consternation.) He said, with a grimace, that they were.

I ended the class by asking him if he let his son play computer games. (I do because I feel sorry for Tony's rigorous academic regimen) He said he did as well.

So I was just a foreigner look at the primary school education and hating it. Many local parents feel trapped by it too.

*

I went to Maoye Mall with a colleague for lunch one Friday. Afterwards, we walked about in the mall and then walked to a subway station closer to the Qing Yang Carrefour. So, we were taking a stroll down Qing Yang Road. The area we walked past seemed overbuilt. There was a fifty floor skyscraper but walk away from it and then you saw abandoned infrastructure, like a escalator leading to an abandoned tunnel, and empty storefronts.

*

Jenny & I went to another mall: Hui Ju which is possibly the biggest of Wuxi's many shopping malls. I was surprised to see that the skating rink there had been turned in a pool of balls: the kind in which kids like to play and are a staple at many kid oriented places.

I wondered if the ball thing was temporary or because the ice rink was not a paying proposition.

[AKIC Critic: Think of all the kiddies who like balls!

Me: Don't go sounding like a leftist progressive about the children! There are higher truths at stake here.]

*

A student, who had been to Thailand, observed to me that many of the European and North American males who go to Thailand, do so for sex tourism.

I happily agreed with the student. Seeing how I have never been to Thailand myself.

Of course the reason I haven't been to Thailand is not so much that I chose not to go as to the fact that I am in a situation where I couldn't swing it. I don't make enough money and what free time I do have, I have to save for going back to Canada. I can't afford to go back to Canada that often, having only gone back three times in twelve years.

*

At the primary school I would love to ask the students this:

Do you shit a tree, a stump or a log? [There is a story in a book I am using for the class that features a tree stump.]

I can imagine, a few of the students – the ones that raise their hand to answer questions without knowing what they are going to say – stuttering and saying “I shit, shit, shit shit ...” At which point I would go to another student who might say “I shit my deskmate” or “I shit my homework” or “I shit a Samsung Notebook 7.”

*

In early December, I was thinking of going out and having a fancy (almost authentic) Christmas Dinner somewhere in Wuxi where I could even have someone agreeable with whom I could socialize.

I delayed making any effort about it for a week.

I then broached the idea to a Wechat Wuxi Expat contact but he said he was doing something for his business on Christmas day.

I then thought to ask the colleagues at work. Most of them expressed skepticism about being able to find an affordable and authentic Christmas dinner in Wuxi. Most of them planned to stay home on the 25th and do their own thing. I was thinking that I was just going to end up going to a fancy restaurant that day but not having anything really Christmasy and that I would have no one with whom I could chat.

But I persisted, sort of.

On the weekend before Christmas weekend (Christmas on Saturday and Sunday) this year, I thought of going to the Ikea Buffet again if someone could accompany us.

But by Tuesday, I was in despair. It seemed that on Christmas weekend, there weren't any options for me. Because Christmas was on Sunday and in China, I couldn't see myself having a decent meal out without parting with money or my time.

But that very evening, I got something on WeChat and we ended up going to the Kempenski Hotel for a family Christmas buffet.

How was the buffet? Read below.

*

I have this VIP student with whom I do two hour one-on-one classes. (Whether I am improving his English is another story.) He was scheduled to do a class with me on the morning of Saturday, December 24th: my birthday. I was going to mention it to him and try to book the class at another time but it turned out that I wouldn't have been able to get this change to happen. And then he mentioned to me that another of our classes happened to be scheduled on his birthday: Saturday the 17th.

*

Meanwhile our school Christmas party was lame. We were lied to about there being booze at the party. We had to buy cans of Heineken from a nearby convenience store.

Still, the people who attended were alright and the beer I did drink made me overcome my morose feeling as the party started.

*

It was very foggy one Wednesday morning. But, believe it or not, I saw only one car not have on its headlights or fog lights. It was actually more shocking than the fog which may well have been smog.

Later that day, I was at the Big Bridge Primary School where I was teachings some classes. There was so much water in the air that the bathroom mirrors at the school were fogged up completely.

*

Walking to school one morning, on Zhongshan Road, I passed three men who were squatting in a doorway all looking at their mobile phones. I should have taken a photo. What struck me about it was how old they were. To have seen teenagers or young adults squatting very close together while all were concentrating on their smart phones would hot have seen so strange to me.

*

I showed Tony the nativity scene from Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth mini series. Slowly, and not quickly enough (I know), I am trying to make Tony aware of Christianity.

Christianity is perhaps my only way out of this bind I feel I am in with living in China and having Tony in its education system.

*

Sadly, the person whose departure from our school I deemed a good riddance is back in Wuxi. Much as I was happy to see the departures of Clinton and Castro, and Brexit, it is the departures in one's personal life that really stick to my craw, as the saying goes. So, I am living in the sequel of a bad horror film where the crazed maniac was not killed.

*

My Birthday (December 24th) and Christmas were days full of anticipation, some small joys and some big disappointments.

I only had a two hour class in the morning to do on my birthday which was better than other birthdays where I had worked all day, as late as 9:00 PM at night.

The afternoon was spent anticipating the buffet dinner we were to go to at the Kempenski. I first sat around in the office at school not knowing what to do with myself. Eventually, I went to a nearby expat restaurant with a colleague where I had a beer and a western breakfast. This was all on Eric. This little gesture made my day. (Also I got a wonderful email from Archduke Harry Moore and a message from a student from one of my history classes) I then took the bus to Ling Ling's. She, who is a close friend of my wife Jenny, gave me a watch. While this was very unexpected and thus nice, I was very antsy as I stayed in her apartment. I was looking forward to going to the dinner at the Kempenski and imagined all the expats I would meet.

When Jenny, Tony & I finally arrived at the Kempenski, we were ultimately were filled with disappointment. First off, our seats were horrible. We were sat at a table tightly packed against another table right by the entrance to the restaurant area. We were right behind the backdrop for a stage set up for a show. The whole restaurant was set up in an area that was not conducive for a show at all. Set up on the third floor of the lobby area of the Kempenski Hotel, the buffet area was filled with columns, barriers, a huge decorative pool and curved hallways. I realized that the setup was a commercial activity done with the intention of packing as many people in the place as possible. Furthermore, I was the only expat at the whole affair, apart from staff. To end up going to what could easily have been a run of the mill hotel buffet in a Chinese restaurant was a big letdown. After 30 minutes, I was wanting to go home.

All that said, the food was okay, but again the atmosphere and seating arrangements of the place were a letdown and I had not much of appetite as a result.

Tony and I wanted to go home so we could check out the VPN router which had just been dropped off at a locker in the Wanda Plaza near Casa Kaulins.

Walking to Wanda, the traffic was something. The road that goes from our apartment complex to the mall was packed full of cars which were parked in every conceivable knook and cranny the road had to offer for parking, including in the two bus stop areas.

Christmas day was spent at home. It rained all that day and Tony had to do homework for three hours in the afternoon after which I went to pick up KFC for our Christmas dinner. Walking to the mall, I saw huge traffic jams. Cars were stuck in the intersections because they couldn't get through before the change of traffic lights.

I passed the time by exchanging Christmas wishes on social media.

*

The excitement of Christmas, for me and Tony, was all about the VPN router we got.

It was nice to get on Facebook and Youtube. But I want the VPN so I can download podcasts that are blocked in China as well as for downloading books from archive.org.

*

I should stop complaining about Chinese driving, but I can't help myself. The extent of the stupidity of local drivers is such that I can't go a week without being astounded.

First, there is a certain intersection that I go through where I know to look out for cars on my right that make right turns without looking. I either have to slow down for them or go into the left lane to avoid them. Well one day, I approached that intersection from the road of the crazy right turning drivers, and I was surprised – though I shouldn't have been – that there was a yield sign on that corner. So those drivers were all ignoring a yield sign or didn't know was a yield sign meant.

Second, I saw a woman put her turn signals as she was making a turn, not before when she was stopped in a lane where cars had the option of turning left or going straight, and the information would have been useful to cars stopped behind her. What the hell was she thinking?!? Clearly she was thinking in an way that was alien to a westerner.

I suppose I should just do a monthly Chinese driver report instead of interspersing them with my other blog entries.

*

I asked students what they had gotten for Christmas. Many of the ones at primary school told me that they had gotten apples. They didn't mean Ipads or Macbooks or Iphones. They meant the fruit.

An adult student told me that he had given his child apples for Christmas. He then asked me about this tradition came about. I told him that I didn't think it was a Western tradition.

*

Much to my consternation and surprise, the McDonalds near our school, which had been there since before I came to our school in 2004, was shut down. It seemed strange that it had because it always seemed busy. But thinking about it a little more, I do remember how the restaurant was often filled with seniors who sat at the tables but never bought anything.

What were these seniors to do? Some of them I spotted at the Briant cafe that is above the Nanchang Temple Subway station in late December. The cafe had been filled with lots of empty tables when I began to buy coffee there in late November. But then I saw a table of four seniors eating sunflower seeds, making a big mess and not one of them consuming a product from the cafe.

*

Talking about 2016 in a Speaker's Corner, the students and I agreed that Donald Trump was the year's most interesting personality.

*

Early in December, I had gotten comfortable with my probably spending Western New Year's Eve at home. David Warren said of New Year's, something to the effect of it having no civilizational significance anyway, deserving to pale in comparison to Christmas and Easter.

*

A tunnel from the Nanchang Temple market area to the Nanchang Temple subway stations has opened. I can take this tunnel to get to the Nanchang Temple Market McDonalds: the nearest McDonalds to our school.

*

It is good to not have any expectations. Sometimes good things will happen.

New Year's Eve, Tony & I went to a party at Casa Zoe, a Mexican Restaurant near the Nanchang Jie bar street area. I had a better time then than at Christmas as there were people with whom I could talk. I didn't stay till midnight as Tony wanted to leave early.







Friday, December 2, 2016

November 2016 Notes

Disband the Chicago Cubs.


Their winning the World Series makes me glad that the Montreal Expos no longer exist. As an Expos fan I can wax poetic about what could have been and what thankfully can never be.


The Cubs World Series victory had a novelty to it that lasted about one week till Trump became the US president.


*


Eric, a colleague here at HyLite English, became a father.


I was with him at the start of his grand day. On the first Thursday of November, we went to the Big Bridge Primary School to teach some classes. The baby hadn't come, as has been hoped, in the early part of the week. Eric came back to work, after four off days that had been scheduled for the baby's birth, still not yet a father


However, the morning of Thursday, he told me that his wife was experiencing pains. I immediately had premonitions that today was going to be the day for him and his wife. At lunchtime, I told him that I would cover that evening class that he was scheduled to do.


We then taught two classes in the afternoon at the primary school. At the conclusion of the second classes, I asked him how his wife was doing. As I asked, he got a phone call from his wife. She told him he was going to the hospital. He said he would get there as soon as he could.


The drive from the primary school to the downtown was about thirty minutes. The two girls that were with us (our handlers in the primary school) and I were excited to be sending Eric off to the hospital.


When we arrived downtown, that was where he went.


Covering his class and doing my classes, I excitedly told the students what was happening. I monitored Wechat for news of the baby's arrival.


At 7:10 PM, I found Eric's posting of his son's photo on Wechat and immediately ran around to show everyone. I don't know why but I was very excited to get the news.



*


I was traumatized when I saw a local man wearing what appeared to be a thong.


What happened was that I was walking along a lane in our apartment complex and passed a man who was bent down, working on the tire of a car. I inadvertently caught a glimpse of the classic bent over look of a person whose pants dip down to reveal the top of his buttocks. Only this time I didn't so much see a "crack," as what struck me – I quickly averted my eyes – as a thong.


The first thong that I remember seeing was in Seattle. One of the servers at a bar near Husky Stadium was turned away from me when I espied her wearing of a thong. That I or anyone could see it was the intent of how she wore it.


*


My son Tony says he is a Canadian. Asked by a local if he was Japanese, he strongly insisted that he wasn't and then proclaimed he was Canadian.


*


Tony doesn't like me taking photos of him.


One morning as I dropped him off at school, I wanted to take a photo but he ran away.


These are also times when Tony can sense my derangement at being in China. As I walk him from our parked car to the school gate, he senses my annoyance and anger brought about by some stupid local driver I had chance to encounter.


*


Walk below my office at Hylite and maybe you will be able to see the NGD quotes I have placed in the window.


I looked up at the sign I posted and it seemed to me that you have to make a special point of spotting the sign, but when you do, the sign stands out like a beacon. I am glad that I can post a message in public in Communist China like that.


*


Student's father had blood in the brain. A blood clot. [His father recovered to be able to go back home, I am glad to report.]


*


Closing off of one of the two entrance gates at our apartment complex made for quite a traffic jam in the apartment complex during the rush hour. Because the lanes in the complex are about one and a half car widths, it made for tight driving conditions. One morning, I was stuck in a lane and had to wait for twenty cars to pass me before I could proceed to my parking spot.


*


I saw this old man at Ikea who seemed oblivious to lining up and other people. I noticed that he mistakenly went to the serving area of the hot dog stand instead of first going to the area in which you make your order and pay for your food. Rebuffed, he went to the cashier and barged right into the lineup of people already waiting to make their orders. He didn't seem aware of the other people who were lined up to pay. The staff ignored them and thankfully the line was short enough that there was no untoward incident.


*


I made no predictions for the Trump Clinton election result. I learned my lesson after the 1996 election that Clinton I thought was doomed to lose.


I saw that for 2016, the conventional types predicted a Clinton victory while a few voices proclaimed a Trump upset. I hoped that the predictors of a Trump victory were correct...


And they were... [I switch to present tense]


Like many, I take delight in seeing the end of Billary.


To those on the left who are appalled at the victory of Trump, I say that I suspect that they will find themselves liking him more and more as time goes on. Trump is, or at least it would seem to be, a Democrat lite. David Warren categorizes him as a 60s liberal. From what Warren observes, I add that this would mean Trump is Kennedyesque. Though the leftists who read my blog would certainly balk at this suggestion, the truth is that a person with JFK's views would not be welcomed in the Democrat party these days. Some Democrats who can stop having a cry baby fit and stop calling Trump a fascist, a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, etc. may actually notice this.


Trump may achieve bi-partisan consensuses that Obama talked about in 2008. [Bi-partisan consensuses in this day and age are evil, however.]


Not that I would really welcome this. I was hoping for a Cruz or Scott Walker presidency.


*


Almost immediately after thinking I could conquer my temper, I walked from the Nanchang Metro Station to our school. I first almost got hit by a car that wouldn't yield to me as I was crossing the street at a crosswalk. I then had a man try to cut in front of me as I was lining up to buy coffee at the 85 bakery. Immediately after the first incident, I thought that I should given the car a swift kick. At the bakery, I swore at the guy a couple of times, telling him to f-off and calling him a meat-head. I couldn't tell if he understood me, he was being inscrutable.


*


I got to visit a laowai in the New District. A rare thing for me to do. When I moved to Casa Kaulins in '08, the isolation began. Recently, thanks to a Wechat app, I am in contact with more Wuxi Expats but as it is, our schedule keeps me away from the places where Wuxi Expats may meet.


*


At the Hui Shan Wanda shopping mall, Tony & I were walking on the second level when we caught sight of four young foreign women and four young foreign males standing abreast on the first level in the mall corridor. The males wore pants and were topless; the females wore bikinis. They seemed rather embarrassed.


They were modeling. But for what? I didn't bother to investigate. It would have been too embarrassing for me.


I suspect that these foreigners were probably Russians and other whites who come from the poorer stretches of the European world and Asia.


*


Traffic Lights not working in the Hui Shan District was becoming a daily occurrence. Getting through most of these intersections wasn't so bad even though none of the Chinese drivers followed the rules for what to do in uncontrolled intersections.


But then one day as I was taking Tony to school – morning rush hour time – lights at a very major intersection, with six lanes of traffic crossing four lanes, were not working. There was no policeman in sight and so the intersection was majorly gridlocked. Chinese drivers are not wont to yield in any circumstance, so this intersection was impossible to get through. I got around it by making a right turn, thinking that I could make a turn at lights that were just down the road. But those lights were out as well, and there I was hoping to make a left turn. Words fail me as to how to describe the chaos of that intersection. Perhaps, if you took a photo of that intersection from above, you would think that a child had taken all his lined-up Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars and pushed them all together with his two hands. I was between cars trying to go in every direction. A car going south was blocked by a car trying to make a turn east which was in turned blocked by a car trying to make a turn to the north.... I only got through this intersection because a path, created by the other cars blocking each other off, opened up for me and I was able to cross three lanes as the cars whose path I was crossing angrily honked their horns at me. [It was a miracle now that I think of it: that getting through.]


*


At the primary school, grade five class, I had students come up to me to tell me about Donald Trump winning the election.


"Donald Trump is very happy!" one student told me.


"I hear he is seventy years old!" said another.


"He was born in 1946!" said another. [I was born in 1964 I thought to myself.]


*


I have seen a few Hilary supporters (or is it lefty Trump haters?) say they can't understand why anyone could have voted for Trump. These same people also like to think of themselves as being so much better educated than Trump voters.


Well, if they are so better educated, why can't they understand? Surely part of one's education should involve finding out what your opponents really think and then offering a sophisticated argument about why they are wrong. Instead, the lefties simply resort to name calling.


*


I read The God that Failed, a book of confessions of ex-communists. It was published in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and with the end of the Cold War, one would think it was antiquated. The communists, the full-on communists, are gone and instead we have the technocratic Chicoms who have given up on communism but can't be bothered to change their name. But the essays in the book did talk of patterns of thought that still exist today among the Left or progressives or cultural Marxists. Good will about solving a problem was not enough for the communists; they needed complete loyalty in what had to be a ruthless way to achieve a utopia on Earth. The progressives today have their concepts of dog whistles and language patrols that convict even the most good willed of people because they don't follow the party line absolutely.


I then read at Crisis magazine, a Catholic site, a review of a book by a Polish member of the European parliament which put forth the thesis that communism and liberal modernity have common philosophical roots although they follow different methods. Living in a state that has been ruled by a party that calls itself communist, I can say that I have witnessed the local government do things that would not at all be uncommon in a modern liberal western state like Canada. The Wuxi communist government builds subways, builds green spaces, provides a bus service and publishes admonishments to its local citizens about things like traffic behavior and littering. They try to put on a friendly face like all western government departments do in their presentations to the public. You can't even say the local governments are different because no one voted for them. In the west, one should realize, we only vote for a change in the high administrators of the system.


The more I think about there is not much difference between a communist and a modern liberal. Perhaps in the West, we have a sham democracy that gives the bureaucracy a sort of legitimacy that the Chicoms are too clumsy that set up for themselves.


*


The solution to Tony's education problems and the losing of his childhood? Homeschooling.


Never was I so happy as when I didn't have to take Tony to school.


I don't want him attending school in the Chinese or Canadian education systems.


*


There are two things I want Tony to be: aloof from Modern Mainland Chinese culture and a Saint in the Catholic tradition.


*


One morning as I was driving back from having dropped off Tony at school, I got cut off.


Actually, this happens many mornings.


But this morning after I had told myself that I would deliberately be cool and not annoyed at something a local driver did, I got very, very angry. I honked and honked at that driver who cut me off and was afterward stopped in front of me at a red light. I got it into my head that I should get out of car, knock on the driver's door and punch him (it was a woman it turned out) in the face. I didn't but as soon as the light turned green I did some driving to cut that woman off, honking my horn as a wild man as I did so.


Did I commit a sin? Did I get mad for no reason?


*


In a class about manners and etiquette, a student told me of a co-worker whose rude action was to go into the desk drawers of her co-workers and steal their food. The student then said she went to the length of hiding the food so her co-worker couldn't find it.


I told the student that that was stealing, not just bad manners, and asked for more details, like how long this had been going on for and whether anyone had confronted the co-worker about her pilfering.


I couldn't believe it when the student told me that this had been going on for two years, but then the student added a crucial detail. The co-worker was extremely generous with her food and was bringing in lots of food and asking everyone in the office to help themselves. So this co-worker had this idea that her generosity gave her the right to help herself to the food of everyone else in the office.


I asked the student if she thought this was weird and she said she did, so this wasn't a Chinese thing.


I wondered if this was even a case of bad manners, but more appropriately weird manners. I also wondered if the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm where the comedy stems from people's weird ideas of manners ever featured such a happening in one of their episodes. I think for instance of an episode where a man who got upset when people put their garbage in his trash can.


*


November 22nd, the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, Tony had a hooky day. We pulled him out of school and let him accompany me to work where he was by himself for five hours will I was off site teaching at the primary school.


It satisfied my urge to fight the Chinese system, Tony's urge to get away from it, and Jenny's urge to have me go along with the system.


I hope that Tony can do more hooky days in the future as a safety valve. What set it off was that Tony get an 11(out of 100) on his Chinese mid-term which lead to Jenny's reaction and then my counter-reaction.


*


Tony told me that some girl at school, a classmate, told him to "fowking go back to his own country" after he didn't finish the food they had provided at lunch. Apparently, the class is praised for finishing the food and chastised if some of them don't.


Relating this episode to a colleague the next day, he suggested that Wuxiren were xenophobic, thinking Wuxi was the best, and would even telling non Wuxi types to go back to the countryside or whether it is they came from.


*

On hooky day, I took Tony to the Burger King at Mao Ye. We sat in a narrow sectioned off area of the restaurant. Afterward, we saw a mother with a son of primary school age sit at a table at the end of the section we were occupying. I saw the son pull out a homework book at the mother's bequest. I also noticed that they had not purchased any Burger King food which threw off the impression I had of them. Looking at the mother's face closely, I detected a meanness in her visage. There was something about her face, particularly her lower lip. She was teaching her son to squat, as it were, all the time wanting him to fulfill his homework obligations.



*


Castro died. I got the news from David Warren's blog. Both were good things.


However, Castro's death was like Stalin's. He died a natural death.


I went on Wechat and proclaimed my wish that he rot in hell.


The only response was from someone from Taiwan who approved.


They tell me Castro is revered in China. I wouldn't know about that. I don't think the students knew of him. They may know of him if they saw news of his death in the news.


In the twelve years I had been at the school, I never talked to the students about Castro. I never thought of Castro as being a source of conversation with the students whose knowledge of the world outside of Wuxi can be very limited. [In a speaker's corner, most of the students told me that they hadn't heard of Castro till his death.]


*


Was Castro a friend of the Chinese people as trumpeted in the Chinese media? Did he ever invite them over to his place for cigars and rum?


*


Jenny told me that Tony's natural grandfather had cancer and had six months to live.


Jenny has mixed feelings about this because the man had given her away when she was five months old.


Tony will visit him, hopefully, on his winter holiday.


*


With the constant use of horns in China, you would think by now that it would be white noise for me. But there are times when the use of horns does rouse my curiosity like the last Saturday in November when I heard about ten cars honking their horns outside of the Hui Shan Wanda.


What happened was that a car was stopped at a corner in a right turn lane and was blocking a lot of cars from making turns. The driver and the occupants of the car seemed to not notice that all the horn noise was directed at them. They were in the midst of some quandary about who was to get into the car. The obliviousness on their faces was out of an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.


*


Local drivers park or stop their cars in ways that make it hard for other vehicles to move about by narrowing the room others have to proceed. Often these local drivers park or stop near corners or right on the corners making it hard for other vehicles to turn. Seeing this I wish these drivers would experience some sort of comeuppance.


I witnessed a few get theirs at an intersection near the auto dealership and auto maintenance plaza in Hui Shan District. A truck with long trailer, used for transporting new cars to dealerships, was trying to make a right turn from a narrow road, with one lane going either way, onto a two lane wide one-way section of road. [The wider road had fences put up to divide its four lanes.] Two cars had made a right onto the narrow road and then stopped or parked right by the corner making the truck's turn more difficult. The truck attempted to make the turn but the back end of the trailer struck the two cars which should not have been stopped where they were.


You would hope that the drivers of the two cars were the ones with the liability but alas I think the driver of the truck would get it.


*


Impatience of Chinese drivers was in evidence one morning at the gate to our apartment complex.


The apartment complex management is trying to get all cars in the complex registered on their new computer system. To do this involves paying some fees. We would get on the system but Jenny refuses to pay the eight years of fees that the management is demanding from the owner of the parking spot we use.


We are able to get around the gates because of an arrangement Jenny has with the security guards: if they don't let us in, she gives them hell.


One morning, a new security guard was stopping cars that were not registered on the computer system, thus causing five or six cars to line up behind, and their drivers to honk their horns so loudly that Jenny could hear it from our bedroom. I witnessed the horn blaring as I walked to our car and then experienced the blaring as the new guard wouldn't open the gate for me.


*


A month full of annoyances, but at least there was the dismissal of the Clintons.


"Yes! Yes! Yes!" to that.


And Eric became a father. Wonderful.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

October 2016 Notes

Taking Tony to school for 7:30 AM and later coming home after 8:00 PM to see Jenny still having him do his homework was more than I could stomach. How could I put up with this till June? Something had to give.


And boy, did it ever! On October 3, the third day of the Golden Week in China, I had Jenny demand that I move out because I told her to stop "overdoing" it with Tony. She said that I was being ungrateful of the sacrifice she was making. Hard to be appreciative if your full of fear of her temper tantrums.


*


We were able to reconcile but not till after the holiday had been wasted.


*


I can't stop blogging about the local driving.


I saw a big dump truck drive the wrong way against three full lanes of traffic. The vehicles got out of its way. The detail that made this bit of driving memorable – for I have seen drivers do so many things that I wouldn't do in a traffic jam – was the fact that the driver was talking on his mobile phone as he was doing so. Talk about nonchalance! Jenny, who tells me that she knows how the local drivers think, was wishing she had taken a photo.


*


Glad to see that Trump gave it to that woman about her rapist husband.


Supporters of Clinton [Are there really such people?!?] say that she is being held to higher standards.


Well, she is running for the Presidency of the United States of America!! This talk of it being unfair for her is only proving what her many detractors have always said: she is not Presidential material because they can't brag about how well she has stood up to this unfair attacks or any accomplishments she might have.


*


The Chinese are inscrutable. I screamed at this fellow in a van which was blocking my car and he just looked straight forward like he was deaf or had a stone face.


*


A student told me that she to finish her homework on a Friday night. The teacher wanted her and her classmates to email photos of the finished pages that night.


A common practice I learned from a math teacher at #1 High School.


And on top of that, the students had had a stretch of seven days in a row (starting on the Saturday previous to the Friday that the student had to have here homework done by) of attending classes and doing homework every day.


*


Young student was telling me about pieces of paper that could get you meat and rice. His parents had these pieces of paper as sorts of souvenirs from the old days in China.


I told him I had heard about those things. They were called Ration Coupons.


*


A female student has one child. Asked by me if she would have a second, she said she wouldn't because of the work involved in having them go to school.


With my Tony in primary school, her thought really struck home.


*


A student living near the Xi Zhuang metro station had some interesting things to tell me about the Xi Zhuang area. Xi Zhuang is two stops down the line from the Yan Qiao Station. I used to park our car at Xi Zhuang and then take the subway downtown. The station had lots of places to park unlike Yanqiao station.


Xi Zhuang's most interesting landmark is this ten year old empty shopping mall, complete a with 100 meter tall Ferris wheel. The owner of this mall, the student told me, ran away, leaving the property in limbo. No other developers seem willing to take on the property and so it seems doomed to crumble.


The second most prominent landmark in Xi Zhuang is the metro station. The metro station first attracted my attention because it when it was being built, it was surrounded by empty fields. Since the metro opened, those fields are still empty. The student told me that the Xi Zhuang government didn't have any money to build a planned shopping mall in one of the fields surrounding the mall. [I have posted some photos to my AKIC Wordpress Photo Blog.]


Thus the hoped for economic development hasn't taken place. And to plan to build a shopping mall when you already have a perfectly good one that is empty seems the height of economic folly to me – at least a little higher than building a metro station in an empty field.


*


Jobs people want in China, I asked. Teachers and Translators, said the student in response.


Lame answer! I told the student.


*


"I don't want vegetables. I will have meat instead."


That was a sentence a student made with the word instead.


In real situations, I tried to tell her, you would use instead with things that are better substitutes for each other.



*


Students think it strange that I would want to put margarine in hot rice. It gives it flavor I tell them.


*


Tony & I found a Iphone 6 on the road near our apartment one Saturday morning, as we were going to catch the bus that would take us downtown. I picked phone up, saw that it was fully charged and had 4G reception. I decided to take the phone to work with me, thinking that even though I was taking the phone far out of the owner's way, there wasn't much else I could do. My intention was to see that the person got their phone even though it may inconvenience them. I


While I was making my way to work, however, I turned off the phone so that if the person phoned me, I wouldn't be in the awkward situation of trying to use my poor Chinese.


When Tony & I arrived at work, I turned the phone on and handed it to one of the girls at work, telling her to wait for someone to call it. I was relieved, as I handed if off, to see that no one had called it yet and so they weren't thinking at that moment that their phone was lost forever.


The owner did phone about fifteen minutes later. He then immediately came to the school to pick it up and wanted to take me for lunch for what I had done.


I was surprised at how quickly the fellow came all the way from Hui Shan District to the downtown to get his phone.


I was also surprised at how grateful he was. Jenny later told me that often lost phones get sold in secondary markets. Was my doing the proper thing such a rare occurrence in modern Mainland China?


Mobile Phones, as this incident shows, have become an addiction. It was like I picked up a bag of cocaine and the user coming from thirty miles away to retrieve it.


The man had lost his phone while driving his e-bike which explains why I found it on the road.


My reward for returning the phone was a big box of Three Squirrels brand nuts.


*


Big Bridge Fatigue blues.


During my first stint at Big Bridge as a High School History teacher, I came down with a flu whose symptoms were extreme fatigue.


I came down with the same bug at the Primary School this month.


As on the first occasion, I got through without having to call in sick after thinking that I would have to and so I maintained my streak of never having ever called in sick this millennium. I spent the day sleeping and not eating.


*


I published a photo in the AKIC photo blog where I called a driver, of the car parked next to us in our apartment garage, an idiot. Look at the photo to see why.


I should be thankful I have a post on the other side to park beside. I wouldn't want to park between two drivers who are dumber than posts.


*


As October closed, I was praying for a Clinton loss. Bad as Trump is, he isn't as corrupt, conniving and unaccomplished as Bill's wife.


*


In my sour moments, I really think I hate the mainland Chinese. I think how ugly and cloddish are the men, how plain are the women, and how their children are barely removed from monkeys. But I have been living here for 12 years and so I sometimes forget my misanthropy.


China is a great place to be a misanthrope, I'll give it that.


*


Going to pick up Tony at school can put me in a sour mood. From the photos I have taken of pick up time at Tony's school and have published in my photo blog, you can see that many parents drive like inconsiderate idiots when they come to pick up their children. And when I hear someone say look at the laowai while there, I get the impulse to teach Tony swear words.


Let's get the f*** out of here!


Homework is ****!


Stop honking your horn *********!


*


Tony wanted to dress as a German soldier for Halloween.


I wanted to dress as Hilary Clinton.


*


In the West, they put fences by roads.


In Communist China, they put fences on roads.


*


I have renewed acquaintance with some old friends in October: Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches and Couscous. The latter comes out quite nice when I use to the rice cooker.


*


Now that the Chicago Cubs have made the World Series, they no longer have a point to their existence. Suffering, if I understand David Warren right, is good for our souls. Now that Cubs fans aren't suffering, they will soon become soulless, like Red Sox fans.


*


On the second last Monday of October, Jenny was tiger-mothering Tony till 11:00 PM and so I couldn't sleep.


Next morning suffering from a tired induced grumpiness, I snapped at this old woman in a bakery who put her tray in on the counter in front of me as I was trying to order coffee. My screaming at her made her pull it away. But I couldn't resist the urge to call her bitch.


Thinking about the incident afterwards, I could say that the woman wasn't budging in front of me as so much as she was trying to put her tray in the space that was there on the counter in front of me. This seems from my observations of the locals a not unusual practice. Unfortunately when she put the tray in front of me, I was tired and not able to control my impulses which were set off when she got into my space as she placed the tray on her counter. And I have had locals, who were behind me in lineups, in train stations and at McDonalds, reach around me with cash in their hands in some bizarre attempt to get quicker service.


*


A student told me that he hated his boss for not accepting the excuses that he had given him for being late to work.


The student was late once every week. His excuse was the traffic.


The student told me this in the midst of a group discussion so I had to let it pass with much comment.


I will comment now. I would like to think that my rare readers would realize how weak the student's excuses were. But in my days as a supervisor I met far too many people with the mentality that this was a legitimate excuse that you could use on a continual basis for being late for work. So I will state what would seem obvious to me. Maybe, that student should leave for work earlier.


*


We, that be Jenny & I, celebrated our 10th anniversary on the 27th. [If you visit my photo blog, you will see a picture from the day in 2006 when we went to Nanjing to get the marriage certificate.]


Apparently, we have beaten the odds by making it to our 10th anniversary. If anyone would ask how we did it, I would offer only a reactionary observation: asking how a marriage has lasted is a stupid question that a modern would ask.


When it comes to marriage, heed what the Catholics say about it.


*


Two months of teaching primary school makes me wonder what child labor is considered a bad thing.


There surely is an advantage to using all the energy they have for some productive purpose instead of wasting it on educational endeavors that won't benefit them in the future one iota.


*


"Where you from?" I asked the male foreigners who happened to sit across from me and Tony on the Metro.


"Tajikistan!" one of them said.


I heard what he said, but since it wasn't the answer I was expecting, I asked him to say it again.


I learned that the two gentleman were studying Chinese at the Zhangnan University.


They asked me how long I had been in Wuxi. I told them 12 years. I pointed to Tony, who was sitting beside me, as I told them my reason for being so long in Wuxi was that I married a Chinese girl.


I then pointed to Tony to tell them how his Chinese was already so much better than mine.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

September 2016 Notes

Better late than never.


Here are the few notes I made during the month of September 2016.


*



Tony cried on his first day back to school.


Tears came to my eyes as well.


I also swore a lot as I got to experience, instead of just witness, the traffic jam by the school as parents drop off their children.


*


I vowed to stop blogging about local drivers and just become resigned to their ways in order to spare my rare readers lots of carping. But I need to vent and that are breeds of idiot drivers on the road in China that one would never see in Canada unless they immigrate there from mainland China.


One type of local driver is always honking the horn out of sheer impatience. If they are behind several other cars stopped at a light, they will immediately honk when the light turns green. And they will honk at the car that slows to make a turn. And they will honk at a car that slows down for pedestrians or cycles. Why? They are very impatient I suppose.


*


A student was showing me videos of security guards and parents fighting, first, at Tony's school and, then, in front of the government building that is down the street from the Kaulins Family China apartment.


This fighting was on account of the bad materials that were used in making the sports field at Tony's school.


*


Thirty one students in Tony's class. Better than forty, but because it is a odd number, Tony is sitting by himself. He has no deskmate.


*


A fellow foreign trainer who has driven in many places in the world tells me that the mainland Chinese are the worst drivers in the world, only exceeded in badness by the local drivers of Papua New Guinea.


*


Long days in September and I'm hating it. I am up before six so I can drive Tony to school. I have three days of the week where I teach English to primary school classes of 35. Some of the classes have been okay as some individual students are good, but overall, it hasn't been a satisfying appearance. Most of the classes have been full of rowdiness, and many of the students haven't been paying attention or are not motivated. I had to whack one kid -- he kicked me -- and I wish I could whack a few more. And at the end of the day, I come home to see Tony still doing homework and being tiger-mothered.


*


One morning, after dropping Tony off at school, I was driving back home in busy traffic and I had this fellow cut in front of me, annoying me greatly. He was driving a cheap gray beat up Hyundai. In a fit of pique, as some space opened, I drove past him and then cut in front of him. I wasn't at first sure if he understood the meaning of my maneuver. Looking in my rear-view mirror – he was stopped in line behind me – I couldn't make out an expression on his face. But he then decided to drive into the bicycle lane as the boulevard just so happened to have a gap in it. It was a maneuver – an illegal maneuver – that I had seen many a local driver do in order to get out of traffic jams. As he did so, I looked over, to my right, and I saw he was was definitely looking at me. He then looked forward and I could see him laugh to himself in a hearty way. I gave him the middle finger salute but he had turned his head and driven away too fast to see it. I guess he figured he had "beaten me" because thanks to his maneuver, he was going to clear the intersection before I did. But the way I saw it was that he had proved the point that I had made by my maneuver. He was an inconsiderate S.O.B. By his manner of response, he showed that was a coward because he drove away without apologizing and was dishonorable by his very act of cheating.


That's Mainland China and the Mainland Chinese for you.


As for me, I should resign myself to Chinese traffic behavior. I am not going to win in Chinese traffic because I don't play by their rules or rather their lack of rules. And maybe one of these idiots will want to fight me.


Even if I win and even if I am in the right in these situations, I will lose.


*


Offer the students the straight goods. If they don't like it, there is no point in trying to appeal to them All that can be done is to hope they go away and to flunk them if you are in fact grading them. Give all your attention to those who might be interested and award them generously.


These ideas came to me from a David Warren Blog entry which just so happened to be published after my first week of teaching primary school and after a second Saturday of trying to conduct a speaker's corner with these kids from Meicun High School whom I despise.


*


Drove to Xinjie one day. Had lunch, hung out, then went home. It was a rainy day. Why don't the local drivers turn on their headlights? I wondered.


*


I am deplorable. How? Let me count the ways.


*


I have discovered that a Cubit is eighteen inches or the length of my forearm. Back in my couriering days (oh! how certain assholes who were in Wuxi have held that against me.), I had a quick way of measuring box dimensions by stretching my thumb and little finger nearly perpendicular to the other fingers. I had determined that from the tip of my thumb to the tip of the little finger, the length was 9 inches or as I now know, half a cubit. Two of these half cubits are equal in length to my forearm.


*


Tony had a reprieve in the middle of September. It turned out that the protests about the sports field were heeded and the authorities redid the sports field. While this work was being done, Tony had a week away from school.


*

But because of this reprieve, Tony will be having a series of six day weeks at his school.


Poor Fella!


*


One way to meet a foreigner in Wuxi is to just knock on the wrong door in an apartment building.


What had happened was that Jenny had lead me on a wild goose chase. She was in a spa while Tony was doing a writing class at a teacher's residence. Having got there early – that is before Tony's class was finished – she had me go pick him up. Problem was that she didn't know the exact address. She said it was in apartment 801 in building 16 or building 18.


I went to the apartment in building16 and knocked on the door. To my surprise, as well as the person who opened the door, there were two foreigners staring at each other. I had to tell him how it came to be that he was answering the door. I learned that he was from Kenya and was teaching Math at the #1 High School. I got his Wechat ID and who knows, maybe we will be friends.


*


As I was saying, I am doing a primary school gig, teaching English to grades Two to Five at Big Bridge Primary School which is on the same campus as the high school where I did my history teaching gig last year.


Do I like doing it? I can't say as I do. The children aren't at all very nice or respectful. I was delusional to think that by being nice to them, I could teach them something and have fun while doing so. After the first week, I had to take into account that anything I did do with them should not get them excited or even amused because anything that was amusing or exciting for them turned them into a loud unruly mob. Being nice and humorous to them the first week was probably a mistake from which I might never recover with these groups. To try to soften the blow from this mistake, I tried to ignore them as much as I could after the first week by not responding to their hellos to me and not answering their questions in the hallway. I tried to overlook their many acts of disrespect to me, but I couldn't hold my temper when before a class, they swarmed my desk as I was trying to set up a projector and my materials. I whacked one kid of the mob on his back. [I should have gotten the assistant to deal with them.] After the class ended, another brat grabbed my backpack, twice, and I very much lost my temper so that it looked like I was going to beat her. It was just my luck, that this incident happened in front of six or seven female teachers. The incident immediately had people talking. As I was in the car taking us back to school, my assistant was already answering a phone call from someone at my school about it. I was brought on the carpet as soon as I got to my school and made to explain myself.


The Chinese teachers do whack the students at the school. They also speak in the strongest language to them to get them to behave. As a foreigner, I cannot do this. I have to rely on the assistant but even she can't do much about the unruly students it would seem. As a laowai, I am going to have a hard time controlling the students, and it would seem that my only recourse is to walk out of the classroom or have the assistant do more.


And then there is the question of actually teaching them something. Some of the children I have discovered can't even read the text and maybe can't speak more than a few words of English.