- There will be no sleeping in this day. The wife has me up at seven AM so we can go to Macallane and purchase furniture (including a bed) for our new apartment. We will then go out to our apartment and get the keys for it. I would rather sleep in, to be honest.
- I thought the King and his retainers would still be partying hardy at twenty past midnight. It turned out he wasn't when I phoned him to wish him a happy New Year. Oops!!!
- I spent New Year's at home. Around Midnight, I tuned to CCTV9. There was a New Year's Show from Beijing being broadcast. "Millions of Chinese and others in the world are looking forward to the Olympics" it was said. I also sent out HNY text messages.
- I am more looking forward to the U.S. presidential elections, moving into the new apartment and the continued development of Tony.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
- I have no idea what I will do this New Year's Eve. Having Tony does pose logistical problems. I will finish work at nine PM. I have floated the idea with the King to maybe go to a pub for midnight and quickly go home. He talked of possibly going out for a late supper with our families but my wife put a kibosh to the idea. "What will we do with Tony?" she said.
- Last night, the King and I did a Wuxi Pub Crawl: Ronnie's and the Blue Bar. We first went to Ronnie's and there was about three patrons there. The regulars were probably resting for tonight. It being dead, we decided to blow and head off the Blue Bar. There were more people there (about 20) but even then it was slow. Of course, the usual Blue Bar lot, including Patterson, was there. They never rest.
- Patterson told me that his school was off for three days but to make up for it they will have to work three six-day weeks. We at HyLite, must be the only school open today. But it makes no difference. Six day weeks aren't groovy.
- At work, a holiday atmosphere, of sorts, prevails. Not too many students are here today and classes are small so work seems easy.
- The NFL regular season is done. My Seahawks are in the playoffs. They should be hosting the Redskins in the first playoff round. The Redskins played a part in eliminating my other team, the Vikings, from the playoffs by trouncing them last week at the Metrodome. My third team, the New York Jets are in the same division as the Patriots,. The Jets can't blame the fact that they had to play that Super team twice for not making the playoffs. They just stunk.
- After reading this, I think I will take a look at Fred Thompson. The fact that he is not hell-bent in his presidential campaign is refreshing from the over done ambition of Hilary. I think the Republicans have three capable and experience candidates: Rudy, Fred and Mitt, who would make great Presidents.
- The wife and the King's wife went to some shopping event yesterday. They spent the whole afternoon buying things for our new apartments. They weren't too happy with us when we went on our "pub crawl" last night. Though to be fair, we both drank only Colas and were home before 10;30 PM.
- Tony was wailing like a banshee when I had to put him down so I could get ready to go to work. He smiles at the sight of me first thing in the morning. Here is Wuxi Tony Update #8.
- On this December 31, my Youtube Video Views are at 102,500 and my MSN Spaces page views are at 42,000. Will I be able to say 200,000 and 100,000 next year?
- Thinking of my New Year's Eves past, they have all been gruesome. Now that I have Tony, the best New Year's Eve I could ever have would be to spend it with him and his mother. Reading Marc Steyn's article about lack of New Year's songs, I realize New Year's is over rated. And as American Fez says "I've recently received some extremely depressing news: at the chime of Monday's midnight bell we have to go all the way back to bloody January again and do it over". Amen.
I got to the end of my copy to the Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L' Amour, and there was a detailed history of L'Amour's association with the Hopalong Cassidy Character. L'Amour did not create the Hopalong character as I had said in a previous blog entry. I should have looked it up. He was hired to write some novels with the character. Anyway, I enjoyed my initial foray into the world of Western novels. I will be reading more of them. I will take them along with me when I go to the Chinese countryside where a person can have a lot of time on his hands.
Thank you to rare reader Sheila for pointing out my mistake.
AKIC Man of the Year 2007
The honor goes to U.S. General David Petraeus, the commander of the Surge in Iraq. His generalship has lead to use of the word victory.
AKIC Woman of the Year 2007
My Wife, of course.
AKIC Wuxi Expat of the Year 2007
Really, no Wuxi Expats did anything to distinguish themselves this year. So the winner is nobody.
AKIC Villain of the Year 2007
It can be no one else but Al Gore. His campaign to spread fear-mongering about supposed Climate Change has resulted in the curtailment of free speech, free scientific inquiry and free markets. His campaign, if it is not stopped, will do little to solve the problem of pollution; and it will lead to more poverty.
AKIC Day of the Year 2007
August 23, 2007 was a great day for it was the day of the birth of my son Tony.
AKIC Quote of the Year 2007
His majesty, the King of Wuxi, the Liberator of Hans Island said: "I didn't do much this year except try to be a good husband and father."
AKIC'S Favorite Blog of 2007
www.seablogger.com. It was the first site I would visit every time I turned on the computer. Allan Sullivan is prolific, intelligent and literate. It amazes how he found the time to be on a boat, and blog so much and so well while battling a serious illness.
- China will win more than 30 gold medals at the 2008 Olympics.
- House prices will go down.
- China will go to war with Taiwan.
- House prices will go up.
- The CPI will go down.
- Hilary will win the 2008 Presidential election.
- China will continue to have strong economic growth.
- One female student said she would get a boyfriend in 2008.
Friday, December 28, 2007
- I finished reading a Louis L'Amour novel, the first of my life. I have seen his books everywhere till I got to China. Now, I have an urge to read them.
- The windows are full of condensation this morning. It is a cold one out there.
- When to get out of bed? At first, I was to get up at 700 AM, then 715 and finally 730.
- Now, I am reading a Tom Clancy novel: Without Remorse. Again, back in Canada, I wouldn't have stooped. Now, I grab any of his novels I can find. I need reading material.
- My sources tell me that the Blue Bar was packed Christmas Eve. I imagine it will be the same for New Year's. I think I will be staying home that night. Somewhere on the Internet, I came across an interview where someone said nothing good happens after midnight. I would have to agree with that whoever.
- My general thoughts about the Bhutto assassination are that Bhutto probably wasn't a shining martyr for anything and that Pakistan will carry on being screwed up. I was also wondering how how the assassination would be pinned on Bush. Seablogger shows Obama taking a stab at it. Like shock and indignation, someone-on-the-left's next reaction is to blame Bush.
- The Who's Who of Wuxi Expatdom have been joining Facebook. For instance, I am now Facebook friends with the King of Wuxi, Niels, Adam Lang and Peter Malik. Impressive!
- Here is a interesting article about China and Darfur and China's Southern neighbors. Read it here. It opens with this quote:
“People say China is a sleeping giant, but it’s wide awake. It’s the elephant creeping up behind us. Only, it’s so big we can scarcely see it moving.”
- I am surprised. Some of the students had heard about the assassination of Bhutto. Most of them don't care about news unless it has something to do with China.
- One of the students named the leader of North Korea as his man of the year. Said the student: Kim Il Jung did the sensible thing and let his nuclear activities be supervised.
- I had another student tell me that his favorite Western Comedian was Socrates. I also asked the student if he ever made jokes about foreigners. He replied that he didn't because he didn't know what made them laugh. It turned out, he thought I meant make jokes to foreigners. It took me ten minutes of fruitless conversation to figure this out.
- Here are the latest Wuxi Tony Updates uploaded to Youtube. I am making so many of them now, I am losing count.
- Thankfully, I have grandparents living a long way away so I can justify Tony's seeming overexposure on Youtube.
I beleive I am up to six (since I started counting).
Thursday, December 27, 2007
This is not a problem I have. I am fortunate to have good eyesight. But it is a problem for many of my students and Chinese co-workers. I was made aware of the problem when I was walking the ground of a big Wuxi Middle School. In the Center of the campus, there is a large artificial lake. A bridge crosses the center of the lake. As I crossed the bridge, I saw large birds wading at one end of the lake, probably about 100 meters from where I stood. I pointed this out to the Chinese who were with me and they told me they couldn't see the birds.
I wonder what it is like to for a short-sighted person to look at a photo of a wide scenic vista say of mountains and valleys.
I heard about Bhutto's assassination through a blog and then watched Fox News on the TVU player for updates. Here is a list of links I had prepared previously:
- The Economist talks about China hosting the 2008 Olympics. I used to read the Economist a lot. It has declined in the past few years.
- An intelligent posting about the perils of Universal Health Care. China is the only country I have ever been to that has a user pay system. It has worked fine when I used it. However, sanitary conditions leave lots to be desired. China has to have a user pay system because it does not have the resources to even think of adopting Universal Health Care. The Chinese have smartened up enough to realize that Central Planning was a disaster for the Economy. They have probably realized the same thing about Health Care.
- Romantic Landscape Painting.
- Mug Shots of Arrestees with Goofy T-Shirts
- Britain's Lost Cities: a story of town planners gone mad. I wonder who is planning Wuxi.
- Maps and Chaps
- The official site of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
- Libel Tourism comes to Canada
- Will Smith and Adolf Hitler
- Descartes for Breakfast
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
- I had three days off. The Kaulins family has spent most of it indoors. Today, it is raining.
- The wife wants me to help her as she plans to take Tony to a public bathhouse for bathing. Public bathhouses are popular in Wuxi because most private bathrooms are cold in winter due to lack of central heating. I have yet to go to one.
- I see that Dairy Queen has opened in the basement of Parkson's. A small Blizzard will cost you 16 rmb. The addition of DQ to the Parkson's basement is part of a recent renovation. Parkson's Supermarket has wider aisles but its selection hasn't changed at all.
- As we walked to the Carrefour Baoli, I saw a man get beaten and thrown about like he was a rag doll. Just before seeing the incident, my wife decided to buy some bananas off a street vendor. She gave me one. I looked down to peel it and then up to see a man stomping on a prone man's stomach about twenty feet or so ahead of me. The sight was enough to make me feel awkward eating the banana. For there I was snacking away like I was watching WWF wrestling on the television, except that what I was seeing was real and pathetic. I then quickly finished off the banana wondering what do with the peel. It was about then that I saw the man, whose stomach had been stomped on, get picked up and slammed down on the pavement, again like in WWF. But this sad fellow was getting thrown down on hard asphalt. The last I saw of him, he was sitting on a curb, his head resting in his arms as he quietly sobbed. His assailant stood nearby talking to some companions. One of the companions had held the assailant's jacket so he could administer the beating. The beating was witnessed by many passers-by. I asked the wife what had happened, she told me that the man was drunk. I assumed she meant the victim. This was not the first street fight I had witnessed in Wuxi, but it was the most WWF-like. I threw the banana peel on the street on the wife's suggestion. She said not to worry because someone would pick it up.
- I finished the second season of The Wire. Still high quality stuff. As I watched, I never had the sensation of getting bored with it. I watched four straight one-hour episodes on Wednesday night and couldn't turn it off.
- I saw one third of WuxiLife, the Danish part, at Baoli Carrefour. He told me that Tony looks like the wife. I don't see Niels much these days but he was looking good.
- The wife made some great mashed potatoes Wednesday evening. The second best thing she has done for me other than having Tony.
- We are looking for a babysitter for Tony. Anyone interested? Anyone know where I can find one? He would be a joy and pure ease to look after.
- We need the babysitter so the wife can supervise the decoration of our new apartment.
- Meanwhile in Canada, my nephew and niece got Ipods for Christmas for which they are very excited. It only seems like yesterday that they were as small as little Tony.
- Following the U.S presidential election can be dizzying. Rudy G was up; now he is going down. John McCain is now a rising star when before he was going no where. Huckabee was last week's star but now people realize he is from the same state as Bill Clinton (so he can't be trusted). Fred Thompson's entry was a splash but nothing else happened for him. Romney and Edwards are the Hair guys. They could go up the middle and win. Hilary was supposed to be dead certain. But then I heard talk that Obama will overtake. But then someone says don't count Hilary out just yet. Meanwhile, Ron Paul and Mike Bloomberg (another NYC mayor) are maybe going to make third party runs. All this talk and speculation only shows what can happen when an election is too long as this presidential election is. I believe the length is an unforeseen result of the Election Campaign spending laws that instead of curtailing spending only made it the campaign longer. Candidates now have to spend more time canvassing donors instead of canvassing voters.
- I bought a copy of 21st Century, an English language publication, at a newsstand for 2 rmb. 21st Century is put out by the China Daily, the government newspaper. It is geared towards teens and young twenty something's. Leafing through the issue, there is a lot of fluff about fashion and sports and lifestyle. However, some of the political stuff is scary. Putin's successor is described as a bookish former academic. The sinisterness of what Putin is doing in making this bookish lapdog his presidential successor while he takes on the PM is not discussed. Four or five pages of the publication are devoted to Green issues. The Nanjing massacres, said 21st century, were so traumatic that they merit being told about again and again and again. (so as to be able to gloss over the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
- Lucky Me. Boxing Day is a day off for me. It is a good thing. I was up late last night doing a video call on the MSN with my parents. They got to see the Tony live instead of on video.
- Speaking of Tony's, I heard Tony Blair converted to Catholicism. What does it mean? One take is that it represents how Henry VIII has been undone. There are now more practicing Catholics in England than Protestants.
- Beckham, like me, lets his wife dress him. I should say "cave in" instead of "lets".
- I had a witty remark but I can't remember what it was. It was some play on words. I hope it comes back to me.
- WuxiLife magazine did a review of digital cameras in its' Christmas issue. I await eagerly their review of mobile phones.
- Today, I will pick up some good bread from Bolter's restaurant. The King picked up his Christmas turkey from the restaurant yesterday and I used the opportunity to order bread.
- We had a traditional Christmas Dinner at his Majesty's household. There was turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies and apple pie for dessert. Yummy!
- The New England Patriots will play the New York Giants in their final regular season. There is nothing at stake, title-wise, for each team in this game. Both have clinched playoff spots. A win or loss won't change their post-season seedings. But for the Patriots, it is about achieving a perfect. What should the Giants do? This New York writer says they owe it to the world to play to win.
- Time magazine has made Vladimir Putin its' person of the year for 2007. I will announce AKIC's 2007 honors on December 31.
The King of Wuxi likes the spandex boxer shorts he got for Christmas. My 250th Youtube Video. 100,000 Youtube Video Views!
- The King of Wuxi was praising the spandex underwear that his sister sent him from Canada for Christmas. He said he couldn't get over how comfortable they were.
- The King of Wuxi also liked the books I bought him for Christmas. If you have ever hung out in the King's bathroom, you will know that half of his library gets left on the floor. It wasn't hard for me to find trashy sci-fi and fantasy novels for him when I went to Shanghai. Only thing was I had to hope he didn't already own the ones I bought. One of the novels I bought looked a lot like a novel he had in his bathroom. Fortunately, it was a different volume from the series.
- Tony couldn't have cared less about Christmas. He just screamed for attention from his mama and papa.
- Take the Global Warming Test. A ten part test with results that aren't politically correct. Did you know that: The world's natural wetlands produce more greenhouse gas contributions annually than all human sources combined; the greenhouse effect is primarily caused by Water Vapor; less than 1/10th of 1% of the Earth's atmosphere is comprised of CO2; and there has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today? Probably not.
- Here it is. My official Christmas 2007 Video, starring the Toner and the King of Wuxi, uploaded to Youtube and ready for you to watch.
- That is my 250th Youtube Video. Just in time to celebrate 100,000 views on my Youtube Channel. Thank you, rare readers, for watching them.
- Here is Ronald Reagan's 1981 Christmas Message.
Monday, December 24, 2007
- Christmas morning might as well be like any other morning in the Kaulins household. Except, I don't have to go to the school. The clan is all asleep. There is no tree and there are no presents to unwrap.
- My Christmas Eve wasn't so good. It was spent at home. I spent most of the evening in one room while the Wife and Tony stayed in the other room.
- When I arrived home, I wasn't in a good mood. What the wife had said the night before had hurt me to the quick. I wasn't in a mood to fight. There was no point, I figured, because the damage had been done. I was going to have to wait out the storm that be my wife when she is in a bad mood. When I opened the front door of the apartment, the wife and Tony were in the second bedroom. I went straight to the first bed room and laid down. I had turned off my mobile phone so people had to try to reach me through my wife's phone. When someone did phone, I didn't answer the phone when the wife tried to make me. I told the wife I didn't know what to say. How to explain that we weren't going to go to the Christmas Dinner because she was tired? The wife then said that she would go to Christmas Dinner. But to me, she didn't appear enthusiastic about it. So I said why bother. After that brief exchange, I did a four hour vigil on the bed while she stayed in the other room. So my Christmas Eve and Birthday was a rather lonely one.
- Eventually, we made up.
- Apparently, I have a reputation around Wuxi of being cheap. So, I was told by someone at the school. But on the other hand, the wife says I spend too much money. Who is right? Whatever. Dammed if you do. Dammed if you don't.
- I had finished work at 500 PM. I made a point of it to wish everyone in the building a Merry Christmas.
- I am now the head foreign trainer at the school. The foreign vice-president's contract was not renewed. Why it wasn't renewed is an interesting question. There were two views. One was that the school could operate without him and save on his big salary. The other was that he had offended the Chinese bosses by wanting to make changes to how the school operated. And thus the Chinese boss saw this as a usurpation of his power and so let the foreigner go.
- Now that I am in charge of the foreigner contingent at the school, I work for the Chinese bosses. I am stuck with a bunch of trainers who believe the latter version of what happened. It puts me in an awkward position.
- Being in a supervisory position, my view of humanity has lowered even more than it already has been. I realize of course that I have to have more backbone. My view of myself is also diminishing these past few weeks.
- My wife being in a foul mood last night has put me in a foul mood today. But I will just try to be silent and sullen. I should be doing some Merry Christmas glad-handing this afternoon at work, but all I want to do is crawl under the sheets at home.
- I can't talk to the wife when she gets in a bad mood. I turn into a persona non grata. That was what happened last night after we went for supper at the Amazon Hawaii Buffet. I detected a bad mood in her and so I asked her what was the matter. She didn't respond. (She adamantly insists that she should not answer any questions I have about her feelings or what she wants me to do. I should just know after being married to her for a year. So it is stupid on my part to ask.) She then told me she didn't want to go for supper this evening because she was tired but that I could still go. When I told her that I couldn't go either in such circumstances, she handed me money and the bank card. She than expressed anger about our, or probably my, having gone over budget this month. She might as well have fired a stun gun at me. I was immobilized to the quick. Nothing for me to do but be silent and expect criticism. And as i said in the precious entry, Christmas and my birthday was ruined.
- This morning, I got up and got ready to go to work. I did one blog entry for both spaces and blogspot. This is a blogspot exclusive entry. The wife and Tony were asleep when I left. I was not in the mood to eat the food the maid had prepared. I looked at Tony asleep, hoping he could be a source of strength for me to get through the day. It isn't about me anymore, I know. But the wife's actions were spirit-crushing. I have never tried to do that to my wife. When she told me she was pregnant, it meant having to postpone seeing my parents for a year. It dashed my plans. She was scared I would be angry. I quickly got used to the idea. It was no problem. What was done, was done. I never got angry. I am pretty easy going about forgiving transgressions. I quickly adapt to new realities.
- We are off early today. I had but one class to teach in the afternoon. At 500 PM, I heading home. What I am heading home to is the question.
- If the wife doesn't change her mind, we won't be going out tonight. Our Christmas Eve will be rather quiet if we do stay home. I would be very disappointed.
- I wonder if I should be making a negative entry such as this. Actually, I am holding but how I really feel. Still, I only put this entry in blogspot because most people in China won't get to see it. I need to get it off my chest.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
- Merry Christmas to all AKIC readers! I meant to do something more elaborate to mark the day in my blog but my plans have been scuttled.
- Seablogger talks about Russia and China. The Guardian talks of these two countries forming an order threatening to the U.S. It is a Left Wing Wet Dream. It won't happen.
- US presidential election musings: The talk I have heard about Hilary Clinton is going down has resulted in counter talk saying to don't write her off just yet. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, there seems to be no clear front-runner. Rudy G., my choice, has been taking his shots. Seablogger talks about an article that practically labels Rudy as a fascist. I have always been impressed by Rudy. He struck me as a tough s.o.b. America needs its presidents to be tough and unapologetic. Instead of caving in to the moonbats of the world as the Democrats want to do, America should ignore them or put them in their place.
- The Toner is officially four months old, yesterday. It was instructive for me to go to the hospital last week and see all the new-borns. Tony has come a long way in the short time he has been with us. For me, he is a Christmas present and Birthday present all rolled into one.
- I don't know what I will be doing tonight's Christmas Eve. As I hinted, my plans have been scuttled. I have not trained my wife to know the importance of Christmas. It seems a needless expense to her.
We spent too much money this month. Or so the wife says, and now she is in one of those moods where she is sullen and silent. The wife, being Chinese, does not realize the awkwardness this puts me under just before Christmas time.
We are supposed to go to a Restaurant tomorrow with Friends to have a Christmas Eve dinner. The wife doesn't want to go. She thinks that if I tell everyone she is tired, I can go by myself to the dinner. That don't look good. It also happens to be my birthday tomorrow so the situation is doubly bad. A man has to spend these important days with his family. If she don't go; I don't go.
I can only hope she gets out of her mood by tomorrow.
I wonder if her moods are cyclical. She was in a good mood last night. So there was no direction for her mood to go but down. I went to work today. When I came home, she started getting testy. Some gaffe I made caused her to snap at me. I can't remember what the gaffe was. Maybe, I didn't turn off a light.... Now, I remember. I put the baby on its back for a second after he had been fed. Tony then spit up what he been fed - My fault and I had just earned her ire. In the back of my mind, I was thinking oh-oh!
When she gets in these moods, I can't talk to her. Anything I say meets a Chinese Great Wall of silence.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
- The School held its annual Xmas Party last night. You can go here to see photos of it. There were a lot of students there. Some participated in the show and sung badly. The Food we had was good, but there wasn't enough of it. I wore a Santa Claus costume and thus posed for many photos with the students. Tony wore a costume too and was an even bigger hit.
- It is my 39th birthday, again, tomorrow. The wife and I will celebrate it tonight. We will go for pizza. Because my wife was born in a village which uses the Lunar calendar she is not exactly sure of her annual birthday. Which puts me in the awkward position of not knowing her birthday.
- Does having my birthday so close to Christmas cause me angst? Not anymore now that I am forever 39. Also being in China where Christmas is not important makes it easier for me. Having Jenny and Tony to think about, I have no reason to complain.
- I remember spending some sad Christmases in B.C. I didn't have a Christmas I could call my own. I was invited places but I felt the bystander.
- I will do a presentation about the Olympics for 300 students at a Middle School this afternoon. We have a vague plan, Justin and I, about what we will do. But it all boils down to the audience. If I can't get a response out of them because I don't understand, it won't be much fun.
- I read Tony Blair has converted to the Catholic Church. I would say good on him. My opinion of Blair as a P.M. was that he did one thing right. And other than that one thing, the Left should love him.
Friday, December 21, 2007
- It is raining Cats and Dogs Today in Wuxi. Tonight, we are having the school Christmas party. I have heard that as many as 300 students will attend. It will be a Christmas Party with Chinese characteristics. Students and Staff will be performing plays and songs, most of which will have nothing to do with Christmas. One student is going to sing the dreaded pop song that goes I'm a big big girl in a big big world. I agreed to play Santa Claus because it gets me out of playing a woman in a traditional Chinese play that our study assistants are performing.
- Yesterday morning on my walk to school, I saw all the students, of this experimental bilingual primary school, dancing arm-in-arm with partners on the school ground. I wish I had brought my camera with me. It was boy and boy, girl and girl, and sometimes boy and girl. I remember once in my Junior High days, learning square dancing in P.E.. class.
- This morning on my walk to work in the cold downpour, I saw a poor man, a hobo type, walking with his arms in a shivering gesture not carrying an umbrella. He was wearing sandals and threadbare clothes. It was a pathetic sight.
- Thanks to John Derbyshire, I have a link to a very thoughtful article about China. It opens with this quote from Dr. Sun Yat-Sen:
The Chinese people have only family and clan solidarity; they do not have national spirit…they are just a heap of loose sand…Other men are the carving knife and serving dish; we are the fish and the meat.
- David Warren talks about the U.S. and China.
- Tony was in a good mood Friday night. I had him laughing and smiling. He still has a deep chesty cough, but otherwise he looks handsome and healthy. His complexion is better. I like how he can smile at me from six feet away. I am sure he recognizes and loves me.
- The King of Wuxi has joined the Wuxi Expat Facebook Group. You should too if you don't want to be eternally unworthy. The King of Wuxi has been given admin privileges in the group but he will use it only for the good of humanity.
- I am going to do a show for 500 students at Tian Yi Middle School. My biggest audience ever. Nervous am I? No. I just hope I can fill the unforgiving 80 minutes with 4800 seconds worth of distance run. That way, mine will be the Earth and everything in. Or to be more modest, I will have the audience in the palm of my hand, slave to my every whim.
Here was my idea for an English Corner. A lying contest to see who could tell the best lie based on the following criteria: plausibility, exaggeration and imagination. The students would tell the lies and also be judges. I told the other trainers at school about it and they said it was a good idea. But good ideas don't necessarily work if they aren't done properly.
One of the top three liars in the contest had to be disqualified because they told the truth. Leave to the Chinese to use the truth to cheat. And I did tell them that a lie is an untruth knowingly told.
So the final round was cut to two. One of the finalists submitted this lie: I will go abroad in two years. She lost to The Sun is the size of a wheel at sunset. Whatever that meant. But it meant something to the students. Now, I asked the finalist who said she was going abroad what the truth was. She said that she may go abroad. No wonder, her lie won no points for imagination.
The mistake I made was to assume that the students knew what a lie was. There is just no accounting....
Thursday, December 20, 2007
- Back to work. It is like I never got away.
- Tony slept well last night.
- The wife is going to fire the maid this morning. The woman has been getting slack. How did 830 to 1130 slowly become 845 to 1100?
- Yesterday, I was carrying Tony in a baby pack or pouch. We now have two baby pouches for carrying Tony about. The one I was using yesterday is bigger than the other one we have but with yesterday's my neck took all the baby's weight. The other model is smaller but it straps to your shoulders. Very uncomfortable to have your neck take Tony's weight. Comparing his size to the newborns yesterday, I saw how much he has grown.
- This video I did is practically viral.
- The Drummond Family lent us a Santa suit that fits Tony. Expect photos.
- Last night, I went to B & Q, Wuxi's version of Home Depot. The place is alright but I get bored in those kind of places very easily. Last night, we chose the kitchen for our new apartment.
- To honor a dead person, we saw a family burn a twenty foot tall by twenty foot long by six foot wide paper house in the park near our apartment complex. By doing this ritual, it is believed that the dead ancestor will have a house in the afterlife. The result of this ritual, yesterday afternoon, was to see lots of burnt pieces of paper fall on Renmin Road traffic and pedestrians. I have a photo of this on my mobile phone which I will download later.
- I am reading The Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L'amour. It is a Hopalong Cassidy Story. I never knew that Hopalong was a L'amour creation till I bought the novel. I find Westerns (cowboy stories)are a story genre that I have been silly not to look into for most of my life. Western stories are character driven and always interesting.
- It is cold and damp in Wuxi this morning.
I am not the only Andis Kaulins who has a presence on the net. The other Andis Kaulins has a posting about the problem of being Kaulins. He also talks about how good a reputation the Kaulins name has in Latvia. Hard to say if it has a good reputation in Wuxi.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I took this photo Wednesday afternoon about four PM. I hope the photo conveys how crowded and confused traffic in China can become. If you look close, you will see all sorts of strange details. A man on a scooter is transporting a plant. A taxi passes a slower car. Pedestrians are mixed in among the cars. No body yields to anyone else; one has to get to a space first.
- The Toner slept like a baby last night. He wasn't up at some god awful hour asking to be held.
- The wife has Tony sleeping in his crib.
- Today, we are going to the B &Q to buy kitchen supplies for our new apartment. But first, we will go take a first gander at newly born Amy Grant.
- Yesterday, Yankee Wombat had a posting about Anti Americanism. Today, Seablogger has a posting about A-A. A phenomenon I am all too familiar with living in Wuxi. I have heard things about Americans that would be racist if applied to any other group of people. And this is from Leftists who talk about the bad old days of racism before the 1970s. Growing up as a Canadian, my thought process was infected with A-A till I realized it was a result of my wanting Canada to be on a cultural level with the USA. America is such a overwhelmingly powerful influence on Canada, it being so close and all. And so Canadians are jealous. Our governments have made the mistake time and time again of trying to copy America's strong self-identity with government policy. As has France.
- In China, I see they want the American lifestyle. I see proof here that America has won the battle of ideas in the late 20th century. And yet, A-A persists among foreigners.
- It is hard to square talk from A-A types about how dumb Americans are, with all the unique things they have accomplished and the global popularity of American culture. One visceral Anti-American, I know, said it was because America was good at Science. "Science" said the man, "is easy compared to trying to devise theories about society."
- I haven't loaded a video on Youtube in 15 minutes? you say. Actually, it has been longer than that. I have uploaded a Tony update for my parents who live in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
- The King and I went to the Australian Pub last night. He asked me what I had bought my wife for Christmas. I replied "Oh *****!". Having the Toner and being in China, it is easy to forget about Christmas.
- I am half way through the second season of the Wire that I bought on pirated DVD. I am still liking it. Many of these HBO serial dramas lose me in the second season. Not , The Wire however.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I think Anti-Americanism is one of the scourges of our age. In Wuxi, I sometimes feel alone because A-A is so prevalent among expatriates. That is why I have to go to the blogosphere to maintain my sanity. I just came across this posting about A-A in a site called Yankee Wombat, an American in Australia. I have met many of the same type of people, as mentioned in the posting, in Wuxi. I have heard a few of them say: "You know, I like that Chavez."
- Renovation must be taking place in two or three apartments around us. That and Tony (he was crying at 4 AM) make it hard to sleep.
- More on The Canadian Thought Police.
- I got angry yesterday. Our school attracts loafers: the people have nothing better than to loiter at the school. There was a particularly egregious example over the summer of a student who came to our school, didn't study and hung out all day at our reception. I chewed out him at the end of the Summer. This student, a son of rich person (anyone rich in China has to be suspect - many are Chicoms), goes to America for school. He is back in Wuxi for Christmas. He was up to his old tricks. I could have shot him. My outburst had me shaking for ten minutes and it was on my mind all the day. I then went on the Internet in the evening and found this on Eternity Road. Was my outburst warranted? I had my reasons for being angry which I think are valid. But I probably overdid it.
- Speaking of outbursts, I am going to do a class at a company called Walter. A few months ago, I had an angry outburst at a class of some students from that company once and then never saw them come to any of the remaining classes in the course I was teaching. I was angry at them because they were continually talking in Chinese after I had warned them over and over again to not do so. It was just as well that the students didn't come any more. It was becoming a waste of time for all of us.
- Also from Eternity Road, the posting: Take Stands, Not Sides. I know a few people in Wuxi who hate and loathe America. They say: Everything the Americans do is wrong because they are American. Americans have strong opinions but they don't know why they believe what they do. It is hard to have discussions with people who believe this. And because America is not perfect (I do think it is better than the rest), it proves their point. I remember once I made a posting about how America has done more good with its power than any other power in history. My point was ignored as a responder talked about the United Fruit Company and America not having given up slavery till 1865. Clearly, they had taken sides, not stands. You can't say anything good about America around these people.
- My wife is taking Tony to the children's hospital. Tony's red and dry skin on his face and cheeks had her crying.
- I should be reveling in the fact that it is my weekend but I got stuff to do. Tomorrow, the Kaulins Family will visit Simon and Nicole, and newly-born Amy at Wuxi People's Hospital Number 4 tomorrow afternoon. Then, I will do a company class for Simon because I am a nice guy and he had to have his baby a week earlier than he planned. But that is the way it goes: never according to plan. The plan on Thursday is to go to the B & Q (Wuxi's version of Home Depot) to buy material for the new apartment for which we will get the keys on January 1.
- Will what is going on in Bali help China's obvious environmental problems? Of course not. I asked one of my more thoughtful Chinese students this question. He told me that any law China might pass is not enforced or ignored. Factories can move to other parts of China. There is no accountability as well. During last Summer's Wuxi Water Crisis, scapegoats were found but they were minor officials.
- Tony's cheeks have become red and dry. I have to hold his arms down to stop him from scratching himself. Thankfully, the Internet tells me that it is a common problem with babies.
- I have moved back upstairs at school and closer to the printer. Now that I have become the head foreigner at the school.
- I acquire the supervisory postion through attrition. I am the foreigner who has stood the longest. The supervising I have done has given me a lower opinion of humanity that I already had. Why can't I find other employees like me?
- AKIC is the China connection for Seablogger.
- I taught a student tonight who works at Evermore Software, employer of my friend the King of Wuxi. I told him to change his name from Ruby to Rudy. Not because I hope Rudy G wins the presidential election next year (which I still do) but it was close to his original English name. I have never taught a student named Rudy before anyway. I seek some originality in student names. I asked him if The King and I looked alike. No! he said, not even close!
- I will do a class for 200 or more students on Sunday. It may be my best attended class every. And most of them won't understand me. It is one of the school's goofy marketing ideas. I am to teach the students at a Middle School about Olympic English. How you can teach 200 or more students at one time anything is beyond me. I also think the Olympics are about as useful as Climate Change conferences. But I go with the flow because it is something to blog about. Expect photos.
- I still haven't done my Xmas shopping. Since it is not big on my wife's agenda, it won't get done.
- I amazed how many foreigners come here with left-wing views, take a dim view of the Chicoms except when it shows America in a good light. Example: the environment. China's enviroment is bad, but it would be Chicom-bashing to criticize them for it. They are doing their best. Al Gore's movie was about how bad America was. That was the message that one person watching a pirated copy of Inconvenient Truth got out of it.
- I am back to being ashamed to be a Canadian. One of the few Canadians worthy of respect, Mark Steyn, could be the victim of Canadian Thought Police.
- I am also doing the big class because the other Trainers are too chicken to do it.
Monday, December 17, 2007
- Judging by the shortness of yesterday's entry, you rare reader could judge that I was too busy yesterday to blog. You would be correct.
- You might also think I can't think what to write about. That would also be correct.
- Last night, I was in bed as soon as I got home. I had the Toner beside me and watched two episodes of season two of The Wire. As I played with the Toner, I kept up on the exploits of Omar and Bubbs. A newly introduced character Ziggy is dumb. I hope he gets his ass done in.
- I lost my bet to Leo. Chelsea had more corner kicks than Arsenal.
- Seablogger thinks thinks Barak Obama could win the White House next year. Why? The Ron Paul revolution. Ron Paul is the hard libertarian candidate. But he is more well-known as the one major Republican candidate who opposes the Iraq War. For that reason many Republicans won't touch him even though many praise his economic ideas (which would be unpalatable to the Democrats). His candidacy is garnering enough support that an unelectable Republican could come up the middle and get the Nomination. And so Barak will win on charisma.
- I had a student yesterday who actually knew a little bit about the 2008 US presidential election. She told me she supported Mitt Romney and John McCain. Her answer completely suprised me but it turned out she meant to say Barak instead of McCain. She is studying in Singapore but is back in Wuxi for her break. In Singapore, they do talk about current events.
- Hello to the students who may have heard of my blog last night at Speakers Corner.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
- I am dealing with the trauma of a blank blog writer page. Being a family man, I only see China when I walk to work.
- From Eternity road, two good postings about Climate Change: One and Two. I appreciate this passage from number two:
Intellectually, the Left is on the ropes and knows it. Over the century past, it's had hundreds of chances to try its nostrums from a position of power. Every such implementation has failed disastrously. In contrast, the repeal of their policies and programs, where permitted, has reversed the damage and fostered health and growth. The Soviet Union and Red China averted total collapse only by embracing capitalism. In the West, the most dramatic example is Chile, where the dissolution of socialism and the institution of a market economy even freer than that of the United States led to 9% annual economic growth and fears throughout the rest of Latin America that the Chileans would soon leave them permanently behind. With demonstrations such as these available, the Left is aware that it cannot win at the debating table.
- That is why the Left is jumping on the Climate Change band wagon. It is their final ideological hope. America won the battle of ideas in the late 20th century. (I converted to the Right in 1991) But the Left did not want to admit it was wrong until the idea of Climate Change (changed from global warming) became a new rationale to stick it to America and capitalism.
- It was the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre this past week. Of course, it made the headlines in all the government controlled newspapers here. As John Derbyshire has pointed out, the Chicoms like to revel in the suffering that happened at that time because it allows them to divert attention from the greater massacres of Chinese that they commited in the 1950s and 1960s and have still never owned up to or apologized for.
- From Small Dead Animals, a link about rude Chinese fisherman. Look for my comment.
- Again, congratulations to Simon and Nicole on the birth of Amy.
- I am wearing new shoes. Or should I say shoes that are not yet broken in. I have had these shoes for over a year. I wore them to my wedding and someone else's wedding. Today, is the first time I have worn them to work. So, it is the first time I have walked any distance in them. One of the shoes is rubbing against the heel. Ouch! I will check on the Internet to see what I can do.
- Something is going on in Bali (not Baoli the local Wuxi shopping mall). Here is what the naysayers have to say about it.
- I have bet Leo that Arsenal will get more corner kick attempts than Chelsea in their big Premiership clash, happening later today or tomorrow depending on the time zone you are in.
- Tony was better last night. At five am, he was hungry; not interested in a babble fest.
- It is raining in Wuxi as I type.
- Romney versus Obama? I will ask the students what they think. (*Later: they don't know much. Some of them have heard of Hilary Clinton. If they want someone to win it would be the person who will treat China the best. That is China is the middle-of-the-world thinking*)
- That last Speaker's Corner wore me out.
- Here is a review of the documentary Nanking.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
- The big news in my neck of the woods is that Simon and Nicole will have their baby in the afternoon. Of course, I will acknowledge that Nicole will be doing all the work.
- I went to the hospital yesterday. The doctor told me that I had infected or inflamed lymph nodes that could be dealt with using medication. I hope he is right.
- In Shanghai, I went to a Lebanese restaurant, the Taj Beruit, that I happened to come across in my eight hours of wandering. I had a chicken basmati rice dish that reminded me of gorgefests I had back in Canada when I liked to frequent East Indian restaurant. Once a week in Abbotsford, I order Chana Masala. It was heaven baby!
- In Shanghai, I also went to Burger King and Subway. I had a burger with mushrooms and a roast chicken sandwich. My trip to Shanghai was a day of satisfying cravings.
- At hospitals in Wuxi, patients will not wait outside the doctor's office. They will stand in the office and bunch around the doctor as he talks to the patient whose turn it is. I find it very annoying because you have to make sure someone does not cheat and move up in the queue. Also, patients will just try to steal the doctor's attention and ask a question. On a previous occasion, we found ourselves at the end of a queue because people had been shuffling the pile of personal medical papers that are openly left on the doctor's desk. Patients think nothing of looking at the pile and any other papers that might be on the desk.
- The problem of snooping is not just something you see in the hospital in Wuxi. At school, I have to repeatedly tell the receptionists to stop students from snooping at schedules. The students will avoid teachers who they think will make them work or feel stupid.
- Following political news, I always go to www.realclearpolitcs.com. The site contains editorials and opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. It is my porthole to what the left is thinking or saying these days. I just discovered this morning that there is another related site www.realclearsports.com that is worth going to everyday. Mind you, this site only talks about the American sports scene. Which is fine by me.
- The big news in American sports is the release of the Mitchell Report about Baseball steroid use. Barry Bonds, all time home run leader, and now, Roger Clemens have been revealed to have used steroids. The game is tarnished. Though, it became tarnished in my eyes, the minute it adopted the wild card. Teams that had no business whatsoever being in the World Series have made it because standards were lowered. Say it isn't so!
- I was proud to be Canadian for a rare moment. An email I received classified Canada, Japan and America as climate wreckers at some conference going on in Bali.
- I have even heard that the Pope thinks the goings on in Bali are hysteria. I know mentioning this would result in lots of anti-Papists pot shots.
- Wealth beats poverty every time. Wealth is generated by market forces. Governments don't generate wealth for the population as a whole ever, except when they stand out of the way and let the market do its thing. That is the lesson from what has been going on in China. When the government was the instrument for generating wealth, it was a disaster. Deng Xiao Peng had no choice but to bring in market forces. Government has a role in play in ensuring the rule of law. China has markets but not rule of law. It environmental problems are a result of local governments having the power to arbitrarily do whatever they want. China passes all the laws it wants but they don't mean a thing. No international organizations can change that.
- I should say thank you to rare reader Alexander who has posted some comments on www.andiskaulinsinchina.blogspot.com. He disagrees with my views about Global Warming or Climate Change but that is alright. I do want to tell him that I can't actually get to my blogspot site except through proxy. Using a proxy, it is difficult to access all the features of blogspot like comment making. The only reason, I can post to blogspot is because a program I have, Windows Live Writer, allows me to do so. I can see the comments because I can get email alerts telling me someone has made one. Alexander, I appreciate the kind words and would like to clink beers, as you said if I could get away from the Toner long enough to do so.
- I bought Tony some rattles to play with when I went to Shanghai. He doesn't seem to be interested in them yet. He did once actually change hands with one of the rattles. But I don't think it was intentional. He is far more interested in sticking his hands in his mouth to suck.
- The New England Patriots, who are 13-0, have a good chance at becoming 16-0. Two of their last three games are against very weak teams. Their last game will be the true test when they play the currently 9-4 New York Giants in New Jersey (where the Giants home field is located).
- This medicine I was prescribed for my lymph node problem seems to working so far. I feel much more comfortable. But I will have to give it another week.
- Tony had a babble fest at midnight last night.
- At the nearby church, there was apparently a meeting yesterday of all religious organizations in Wuxi and the government. Buddhists attended, among others.
- It is cold in our apartment. Tony wears a parka all day. I think he must hate it because he does not have enough freedom of movement. I also wonder if the wife maybe is overdressing him. Besides waking him up, I am also accused of exposing him to cold unnecessarily.
- I have too many Speakers corners next week. Who is the idiot who schedules this? Me.
- 95,000 views of my videos on Youtube. Can I hit the 100,00 mark before January 1. I need 5000/16 views a day to do it. 5000/16 is 312. I think it is possible.
- I notice that I go to facebook less and less. This gadgets they supply are becoming more and more annoying. You always having to load them after they have hooked you. And you never use the gadget again.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I damn near forgot. December 12 is Frank Sinatra's birthday. It is Frank's planet. It is not Algore's. We just live on it.
I am not part of the demographic that likes Frank Sinatra. When I have told others I like Frank Sinatra, they either reply that I am older than I look or somehow I should look at my birth certificate and conform. I can only shrug my shoulders in response. So much of my generation's music is ephemeral.
Frank was a great singer. Perhaps the greatest of the 2oth century. His music is better than anything happening today in this the era of anti-music.
Of course, not every thing did he was good. After the mid-sixties, he was past his prime. Most of what he did after his comeback in '74 was not worth remembering. He was a man with a legacy, a magneficent legacy of course, and it was great if you were able to see it in person, but from a distance you were better off listening to his many, many classic albums. I shudder when I think of the tributes that were done in his honor in the 1990s and the pop frauds that were paying him tributes.
When I sing to my Tony boy, I sing Sinatra songs. I know that there is no point in my trying to impose my tastes on him. He will like his own thing. I can only hope that the guy who makes the world go round can somehow make Tony a Sinatra fan. It would be a good sign that he was brought up civilized.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
- The Toner was acting strangely last night. The wife had been saying he had been a good boy all day yesterday. He was quiet, not fussy and slept a lot. And in the evening, he was laughing and screaming. He was a lot of fun. But he wouldn't go to sleep. At 400 AM, he still was awake and smiling, not caring about the trouble he was causing his parents.
- There will be a big show at our School's Christmas party on December 22: at least 13 presenters.
- Shanghai tomorrow. Today, ticket office.
- Weather today: damp and cool.
- Tony has big red patches on his cheeks. Wife is worried. A little research on the Internet reveals this is nothing out of the ordinary.
- I had a student tell the class he had seen UFOs in his home province. The first time I ever had a believer in my class.
- Here is Marc Steyn's Evel Knevel obit.
- I was hoping to catch a replay of the Liverpool - Marseille game before I learned the score. On the Internet, I am watching Real - Lazio. And it is turning into a rout.
- They are doing renovation in the apartment right above us. Aaarrrgghhh!
- Liverpool is through. They pounded the French side 4 - 0!
- China is polluted and it embraces the U.N. Corruption attracts corruption like shit attracts flys.
Monday, December 10, 2007
- Look at these words: Florid, Spring, Magic, Sot, Winter, Apple, Kisses, Solar, Computer, Lotus, Yoyo, Disney, King, Queen, Field, Sky, Fly, Cookie, Candy, Florid, Beryl and Horse. What do they all have in common? Answer below.*
- I saw a short fellow, wearing only jeans and one top in this cold weather, pulling an enormous cart,that was filled six feet high with discarded food and had more bags of refuse tied to every possible perch. The man was hunched over, staring at the ground in the manner of a coolie as he strained to pull his enormous load. But he had a cigarette in his mouth and he was well-built. He was such a startling sight and I kick myself for not having the camera with me to take a photo.
- The School has a Christmas Party on December 22. They were thinking of having a rock band, but thankfully the band proved to be too expensive. Bands at parties satisfy 20 percent of attendees at best.
- The wife is going to kill me. I forgot to turn off the computer when I left home. I realized when I was almost at work. (actually, I realized when I was outside the apartment but I didn't want to turn around. I would have phoned the wife but she was in bed.)
- I will be changing offices at school. I will be back on the fourth floor closer to the classrooms and the admin.
- I will be going to Shanghai on Thursday to give the proper paperwork to the Canadian Consulate. I just want to get in and get out.
- I love talking to students who have babies. I have many questions to ask them and can at the same time teach them new vocabulary.
- I had a student whose six month old baby is in Changzhou. She only sees her son on weekends. Her parents or in-laws look after the baby while she is away. That just shouldn't be.
- At one point, the word about the U.S. presidential election was that it was dead certain that Rudy would take on Hilary after the conventions were all said and done. But there is now talk of both conventions being brokered.. I can remember leadership conventions like that in Canada. They make for splendid political theater.
- The Duke of Wuxi lost a bet to Leo the Greek. Leo bet the Duke that there would be a penalty kick taken in the match between Arsenal and Middlesborough. It just so happened, that a penalty kick was awarded four minutes into the match!
- I received a newsletter from Wuxi Rental Consultants. Have you? Click here if you would like to. It is a good source of info about what is happening in Wuxi.
- The sponge cake that we gave out at Tony's 100 day party was fantastic. At least, that is what the Duke and I think.
- Think of the children. Read this blog posting and the reactions. Environmentalists do want to throw out the baby with the bath water. A WEST Australian medical expert wants families to pay a $5000-plus "baby levy" at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 a child. Fuck off I say to that person. How can anyone plausibly say that the Al Gore crowd and Environmentalists are not trying to bring in global authoritarianism?
*They are all English names that the students have given themselves.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
We held Tony's 100th day party yesterday. It is a Chinese tradition that I had to do but I am not enthusiastic about. I did have an okay time last night, but unfortunately issues arise. Because of the tradition of giving hongbao (red envelopes with money), these affairs are about the evening up of accounts. It is not such a big deal for me, but it is important to my wife. As well, the issue of who or who doesn't come has implications too. So, I am glad I don't have to do one of these things again. The new apartment we live at is too far out for us to have a house-warming anyway.
Thirty people attended the party last night. I thank them all for attending. I didn't want it to be big. The issue of who and who not to invite was irksome to me. The food was good. The room we used had a western toilet. In the building we were in, there was a wedding going on downstairs. They spelt Tony's name wrong on the sign downstairs but that is also a Chinese tradition or becoming one.
Before we went to the restaurant, we had ten people in our apartment. I almost went out of my head. We had no room for them.
Tony threw up twice: once on his grandmother; once on his mother. He was freaked out by the occasion. A lot of people were holding him and looking at him. I am happy to say that he finds some comfort in my presence. That made the evening all worthwhile.
I tried to invite as many family type people as I could. So I am glad to say that two expectant couples attended. Simon, from England, and his wife are expecting a baby around Christmas time. Fred, from Oregon, and his wife are expecting around New Year's.
And I kick myself because there were people I should have invited but because I have been secluded, I forgot about them.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
- I teach two classes Sunday Morning. In the afternoon, I will do whatever it is I have to do for Tony's 100 day party tonight. Luis (www.ponquenet.spaces.live.com) will work for me in the afternoon.
- I went to the Blue Bar last night for their third anniversary night. A good crowd was there. I brought the Toner there and he had many admirers.
- It was good to talk with an American Republican. I curse myself because I can't remember his name, but he is from Charleston, South Carolina. Next week, he goes back to the USA permanently. He happened to drop into the Blue Bar last night and it was my good fortune to wish him farewell. I asked him some questions about the American scene. About the Sub-Prime debacle, he told me how people were hoodwinked into believing that they were entering a forever rising market and that they were guaranteed to make a profit and gain equity by buying a house. But these loans were adjustable. What at first were car-like payments became more and more expensive. Furthermore, the banks marketed the actual mortgages as investment instruments to unsuspecting types saying they were guaranteed like a seven percent return. The instruments have been purchased all over the world. Some places in America, will see lots of neighbors moving. The American dollar is sliding in value because the Americans are letting it, he says, but they are surprised at how much it has. He told about a practice of using illegal immigrants in construction but then not paying what was initially promised because the illegals don't have any legal recourse. But Chinese subcontractors do that to their countrysiders which shows some practices are universal. In America's case, they have to decide to enforce the laws.
- I learned other details about the elevator accident that occurred in Wuxi a few weeks ago. It happened out in the New District at a newer apartment block. The elevator fell 25 stories. A lot of people on the eleventh floor were waiting for the elevator. When the door opened, there was no elevator. I wonder how if any of these people may have fallen because it is the Chinese practice to rush into the elevator as soon as the door opens.
- At Lambton college in the outskirts of Wuxi, they have Canadian, American and British teachers. An interesting mix. I would like to see that here.
- A Chinese lady walked up to Tony last night at the Blue Bar. Tony gave her a smile. She gave him a kiss. I have heard it is a Chinese custom to kiss stranger's babies if they look cute.
- The King of Wuxi was trying to get his 300 rmb worth of food at the charity bazaar dinner held at the Kempenski last night.
- I finished the seventh chapter of "The Dragon and the Foreign Devils" last night. (I left the Blue at 900 PM). It talked about the first major incursion of Europeans in China. The Europeans were interested in China, but the Chinese thought of the Europeans as barbarians. The Chinese thought of themselves as the center of the world and everyone else were vassals. The first favorable views of China held by Europeans soon changed to disappointment and then disdain. This strain in relations continues to this day. It explains much that I have experienced here. But I admire the Chinese and as well as feel frustrated and surprised by them.
Friday, December 7, 2007
- Tony's big 100 day bash is Sunday evening. Saturday evening , there is the third anniversary of the Blue Bar bash as well as a bash at the Kempenski for Wuxi Life. The King of Wuxi is going to the bash at the Kempenski. The wife does not want to go anywhere tonight. So I am in a quandary as to what I will do. If I go to the Blue, it will be for a short time. There should be about thirty or so people at our gig. Small and intimate is the spin I put on that.
- We will have to put up with the noise from a nearby apartment being redecorated.
- Luis tells me a new bakery has opened near the school. Guess where I am going for lunch!
- I am listening to the latest edition of Radio Derb.
- I am doing a salon class about creatures of legend. I am going to change the topic slightly to urban legends and see if that works.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
- The last two evenings, as an experiment, I have laid the Toner on his stomach to see what he would do and how he would react. He lifted his head somewhat to look around but after two minutes on his stomach, he complained.
- We returned to the Notary Public Thursday afternoon to get another copy of a translation of a Toner birth certificate. The building containing the Notary Public we went to is strange in that you can take an elevator to the fifth floor but you then have to take stairs to the sixth floor. The office we thought we had to go to was on the sixth floor. We thought so because we had gone to the office on a previous occasion and got the translation. So taking Tony in the pram, we had to carry the pram with Tony up one flight of stairs. It was just our luck that the office we had gone to previously was on the sixth floor. Thursday afternoon, we were sent down to the fifth floor because the person we dealt with on the previous occasion working on the sixth floor, was now on the fifth floor. And so we had to carry the pram down one flight of stairs. We would have had to carry the pram down if the person we had dealt previously was still working on the sixth floor; but it just goes to show you the slippery Byzantine nature of bureaucracy, especially in China where you can seem to pin down a mandarin's office. It was carrying down the pram with Tony in it, that a typically Chinese thing occurred. The wife and I were carrying down the pram, practically being three abreast with the pram in between us. There was not much room for anyone to pass us. As we were three stairs from the bottom, three people approached the stairs. In a civilized country, all three people would have waited the five seconds it would have taken for us to get to the bottom of the stairs. But this is China, where no one yields to anyone. A lady tried to creep around us. I gave her a shoulder because there was no way I was yielding the ignorant woman space.
- In China, people don't wait for the elevator to empty before trying to get on it.
- Earlier, I was pushing the pram through a crosswalk and I made a electric scooter come to a very awkward halt. This idiot had no intention of yielding right-of-way and was attempting to swerve almost 90 degrees from his path to do so.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
I have finished the first five chapters of Harry Gelber's The Dragon and the Foreign Devils. I didn't know that when Columbus went looking for China in 1492, he was bearing a letter meant for the leader of the Yuan Dynasty. They were not aware in Europe that the Dynasty had fallen over a hundred years earlier. Also, Marco Polo is considered by some to have been a fraud and not gone to China at all. I can assure you, rare readers, that AKIC is not a fraud on that account. I am in China.
The students' knowledge of Foreigners is limited. I had a student ask me if Australia was going Communistic because the Labor Party won the recent election. I told him this was an exaggeration. Although, truth be known, the more I hear about what the new Australian PM is doing, it may not be such an exaggeration after all (he signed onto Kyoto three hours after elected). The fact that the student had actually asked me a question about foreign news was a rare thing for me. But then I learned that the new Australian PM is a fluent Mandarin speaker and so received lots of attention in the Chinese press. I had tried and was chided (by leftie foreigners no less) for talking to students about the U.S. presidential elections but the students had no knowledge.
So many students who live in Wuxi tell me that they have never been to Shanghai. Shanghai is a one hour train trip from Wuxi. It was nothing for me, before the Toner came along, to go to Shanghai on a day trip. Many Wuxi people think Shanghai is too big and too far away. Also, they are busy in Wuxi with family and studies.
What is a Wuxi person's hobby? Sleep or maybe play some computer games.
I took the above photo from my 21st floor apartment. It is an ordinary shot but for whatever reason, it just seemed as if I could see farther away than usual. On the left hand-side, you can see the Kempenski Building.
I took the second photo from the ninth floor of the Wuxi People's Hospital #4. From the mountain in the foreground to the tower in the back that is a path that I have taken. And you can stop at a temple along the way.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I am in a giving mood these days, when it comes to links. Here is another link about China, I found when reading John Derbyshire's November Diary. It is a poem Zhuangzi - [Chuang Tze]. Now, I like poetry. I would never claim to be an expert on it. But I always felt reading poetry was good for the soul.
It is younger brother's Ron birthday today (December 5). I still think of him as the Kid Brother, but he is no Kid. Ron was the first baby to ever come into my Life. I pity the Chinese who will never have the experience of having siblings. From the time Ronalds was born, I can remember the joy I felt when I learned that my Mom had had a boy and that I could lord it over my younger sister, Benita, who was hoping to have a little sister. Ron was born in Quebec - continuing the tradition of family members being born in places that they didn't live in for long. (Benita and I were born in Germany. My parents were born in Latvia.) Ron is living in Winnipeg, Manitoba - stamping grounds for me for a few years, and the hometown of our majesty, the King of Wuxi. Happy birthday Ron!
December 3 was our first anniversary (Jenny and I). And we both forgot it. With the Toner around, we forget about these things.
Here is another link for you budding Sinologists from Seablogger. It is about Corporacy in China. Like the article yesterday that I linked about China, it looks at China, describes it and wonders about its future. Is China a meritocracy? Living here, I know, it isn't a pure meritocracy. Certain people can advance through connections rather than talent. But the students do work hard in their often, by our standards, primitive conditions. So it may well be I know the exceptions rather than the rule. But, I think the world has become over-dazzled by China. The China Miracle is simply a repeat of what has been done in the other affluent parts of Asia. There have been Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese miracles already. The growth that China is experiencing now is testament to the foolishness of what had been going on before.