Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why no snow? It is coming now... A Tang Dynasty Poem

Where is the snow that we are supposed to get?  I have just been told that we are on the edge of the system so we may not get it or get it later.  I look out the window now (it is lunch time) and see snow.

The snow is coming!

The King of Wuxi predicts Romney will meet Obama in the finals on the U.S. presidential elections.  I would put my money on a Obama-McCain final but I still think it is a toss up on the Democratic side.  In the Republican Conference, the Huckster is going to take votes away from Mitt allowing McCain to get the majority of delegates needed before the convention.

Here is a Tang Dynasty poem with snow in it:

 

Cen Can
A SONG OF WHITE SNOW IN FAREWELL
TO FIELD-CLERK WU GOING HOME

The north wind rolls the white grasses and breaks them;
And the Eighth-month snow across the Tartar sky
Is like a spring gale, come up in the night,
Blowing open the petals of ten thousand peartrees.
It enters the pearl blinds, it wets the silk curtains;
A fur coat feels cold, a cotton mat flimsy;
Bows become rigid, can hardly be drawn
And the metal of armour congeals on the men;
The sand-sea deepens with fathomless ice,
And darkness masses its endless clouds;
But we drink to our guest bound home from camp,
And play him barbarian lutes, guitars, harps;
Till at dusk, when the drifts are crushing our tents
And our frozen red flags cannot flutter in the wind,
We watch him through Wheel-Tower Gate going eastward.
Into the snow-mounds of Heaven-Peak Road....
And then he disappears at the turn of the pass,
Leaving behind him only hoof-prints.

Where is the Snow? Increased traffic on this site.

No predicted overnight dump of snow.  It is just cold in Wuxi.

The snow can go away now.  I have had enough of it.

I have been having increased traffic on my websites this past week.  Why?  I don't know.  Perhaps, it is the snow.

I have a more than the usual bunch look at this recent video as well as this one and this one.

It is hard to get a taxi in Wuxi. I had to run to Carrefour yesterday to help my wife bring home the groceries because they were heavy and she couldn't get a cab.  It was tense because I had to leave a sleeping Tony by himself in the apartment.

The King and I visited the Blue and Austrailian Bars last night.  Not much to say about that really.  It was the usual lot there.

Tony spent an hour crying yesterday afternoon because he wanted his mom.  All I could do was wait for him to cry himself to sleep. 

Seablogger talks about Expats.

The well-heeled expats are going to Thailand I hear.

In this blog, I will talk about my "shit" as it were.  The other blog is a lot more public than this one.  It is hard to get this blog in China, or at least in Wuxi, without a proxy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I shouldn't complain.

I just received an email from my parents telling me that it is minus 50 degrees Celsius in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.  Of course, it is probably still warmer in their house than it is in my Wuxi apartment.

Here is another video of  Wuxi Snow 2008 that I have uploaded to Youtube.

Snow in a downtown Wuxi Park.



I took the above photos on my walk to the supermarket where I bought food in anticipation of tomorrow's forecasted big dump. In the bottom photo, you can see some broken tree branches. They are a common sight all over the city. In the middle photo, the old people are performing Tai Chi. In the upper photo, you can see pedestrians walking on canvas mats which are being used instead of sand or salt that you would see in North America.
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More Snow to come to Wuxi.

The word around Wuxi is that another big dump of snow is coming this Friday.  What this means for me personally is that tomorrow the wife and I will go shopping to stock up food in the apartment; and I won't be doing much teaching as students won't be coming to the school.

Today, the wife and I spent fifteen minutes trying to  catch a taxi.  We did eventually get one.

My Canadian friend who drives a car here says it was a nightmare to do so today. 

I went to a local expat bar for the first time in six weeks.  I saw the same eight or nine people I saw the last time I went.  And I knew before I went that I would see them there.

The wife and I took the taxi to B&Q to look at the tiling we will be putting in the kitchen of our new apartment.  B&Q is China's version of Home Depot.  One of the most boring places on Earth if you ask me.

I am not too happy about McCain winning the Florida primary.  Rudy G will have to drop out.  What a shame.  The Republicans have given up the presidency.

I read two chapters of a PD Wodehouse book this afternoon at my friend's place.  The man is a brilliant writer.  He always hits my literary spot.  I also leafed through a Sherlock Holmes casebook.  I never read Conan Doyle till I arrived in China and I can only say in my defense: better late than never.

My five month old son Tony can sit in a high chair.  Another new development of which he is making many these days.

The Wuxi TV News showed the government looking after the snow problem.  The truth is this snow is minor stuff and the city has reacted poorly.

No sand was put on the icy roads.  Instead, they used grass mats.

At a nearby food market, I saw old people buying lots and lots of cabbage.  They assume that they will be stuck in the house for a month and cabbage stays edible for a long time.

None of the people in government now would ever win an election with secret ballots.  Who is going to vote for someone who keeps people waiting for 45 minutes before making a 45 minute gaseous speech?  That is the approach of a government leader here when speaking to citizens.

The snow hitting China has a good chance of paralyzing Chinese New Year travel.  Could the government have a social unrest problem (a constant worry for Chicoms) if half the country is left stranded because of traffic foul ups on China's biggest travel day of the year?

None of the shoes I have bought in China are water proof.  Go figure.

Wuxi, China Snow #3

This video was taken from the King of Wuxi's apartment.

Wuxi, China Snow #2

I took this video from my 21st floor apartment in Wuxi, China.

Snow on Wuxi New District Rooftops.


The monolithicism of Modern China meets snow.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An AKIC Weekend.

It is the weekend at the Kaulins household.  The Kaulins family will be going the the Royal household this afternoon.

But first we have to go to B&Q.

It was Stewart Dingle's birthday so I gave him a big kiss.  I wonder when Patterson's birthday is.

McCain is going to win the Florida Primary.  Shhhiiiitttt!

Wuxi, China Snow Video

I have had a lot or response already to this video.

Video of Wuxi Snow.

Here is a link for the video I took of the snow we have been having in Wuxi.  For whatever reason, I can't embed the video in the site.  The Internet isn't working so good at the school today.  It is intermittent.

I work ten to nine today.  Till six o'clock, I have to keep myself occupied best I can.  Then, I have three classes in the evening.  I am tired by the time the evening arrives even though I can't say I did much during the day.  I have worked on everything that needs to be done today.  I have schedules planned till the end of February best that they can be till I get more exact information.  I have been posting ads for teachers on the Internet, including this site if you look at the previous entry. 

I find I have so many things that I want to do but, not a disciplined plan to accomplish them.  I, of course, want to be the best parent I can for Tony which means I have to be the best teacher/supervisor I can here at the School.  So, I don't feel very relaxed even when I am not doing anything.  I tell myself that there must be something else I should be doing.  Heck, I even feel guilty now as I make this blog entry because there must be something more important I should be doing.

I will make a random aside comment about the U.S. presidential election:  It just may be dawning on some Bill Clinton likers that he may just well be the scumbag that many of his opponents have been saying he is all these years.  They had said that his haters were irrational.  Did it ever dawn on Clintonistas that their support of Bill Clinton was just willful blindness to his faults?

I finished watching the third season of the superb HBO series The Wire and an now three episodes into the fourth season.  The show continues to awe and surprise me.  It is such high quality stuff.  It is cynical, funny and realistic.

I have an English corner tonight.  I will talk about the snow, of course.  Other possible conversation topics will include favorite movie monsters, ways to say I understand, Theory X versus Theory Y and an brief introduction to Super Bowl pooling.

Yes, I have a Super Bowl pool going based the scores of the game.  On my 10 by 10 grid, I so far have managed to get 63 squares filled in at 1 rmb a square.

The service guys could not find out what caused the water machine to leak all the water onto the kitchen floor.  So the wife has put a new bottle in the machine.  Maybe it was the bottle that was at fault combined with the low temperatures in the kitchen.

Has this happened to you? was a great idea for an English Corner.  I told the students about some things that happened to me like the recent flooding of my kitchen and finding a 100 rmb on the sidewalk.  The students came up with some excellent ideas themselves.  The trainers in the office also came up with some ideas that I dare not repeat.

So far my call for Resumes and CV's has earned responses from Africans.  Unfortunately, the Chinese want Native English Speakers from the Anglosphere.  And now I realize that they also don't like speakers with heavy English, Irish or Scottish accents.  The Chinese only want to be taught by people with flat mid-western USA accents or upper-class British accents.  The Chinese don't like to speak English among themselves because they don't understand each other.  Really, they should be learning how to speak English with the Indians and Africans because in the future, they will have do much business with them.

There is a Bread Talk in Wuxi.  It is expensive but they bake some good stuff.  Last night, I bought 2 sesame seed buns and a piece of curry Nan bread for 11 rmb.  It is located in the basement of the Parkson's at the corner of Renmin and Zhongshan roads.

Some of the young students we have can be very dull.  I don't mean dull as in dim-witted.  I mean that they aren't very interesting and don't seem to have any interests.  They are made to study and study from early morning to night.  All they want to do if they have free time is sleep ( I have had many students tell me that their hobby is sleeping).  Some if they are lucky can have an evening to play some computer games. 

This is a superb blog.  It is literary in a way my blogs can never be.  I admire and envy the writer of it.  I extract a quote from his blog.:

With more sadness than anger, Donoghue bemoans the extra-literary approach to literature now dominant in universities. He offers “Conrad versus Chinua Achebe – was Conrad complicit with Imperialism?” as an imaginary but all-too-typical and silly subject for literary discussion. He writes:
“These and many similar topics are in high standing in departments of English, but I am not much interested in them, because they lead me away from the literature I care for toward serious issues that are treated well enough by political commentators in books and magazines.”

 

Happy 50th birthday to Stewart Dingle, the manager of the Blue Bar!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Looking for English Teachers in Wuxi China. Astounding and amazing things.

  • Astounding and Amazing things.
  • I am accepting resumes and CVs from native English speakers for a teaching position starting  March 1.  Here are the details:

English Trainers needed at HyLite School in Wuxi

Required
· Native speakers from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and USA.
· Minimum college diploma
· TESOL, CELTA etc.
Benefits
· 3 weeks of paid national holidays: Chinese New Year(Jan or Feb), first week of May and the 1st week of August In addition you receive 2 other weeks of holiday of your choosing during a 1 year tenure.
· Monthly salary 7500RMB plus 1000RMB living allowance.
· Return airfare at the end of the contract.
· All Visa costs will be reimbursed with receipts upon your arrival. Residency permits and working permits will be arranged by the school.
· Airport pick up
· Accommodation provided in an excellent hotel while you are assisted in finding a suitable living location.

The job is 5 days per week comprising 25 fifty-five minute classes and 15 hours prep. time with optional overtime classes. The trainer has 2 consecutive days off each week. The teaching materials are all supplied to which trainers add their own ideas to enhance the learning experience of both students and themselves.

At HyLite, you will teach a wide variety of class sizes from 1 to 50. The majority of classes you teach will be private classes (max. 4) and salon classes (max 8). We are teaching more and more corporate classes so those teachers with business experience are especially needed. As well, you will have the opportunity to teach an occasional primary and middle school class.
The students are motivated adults (the youngest students are 15) and they will surprise you with their tenacity and eagerness to learn. Trainers are also expected to join in the fun of such off-campus events like, Hawaiian Beach Parties, Halloween extravaganza, day trips to visit local sights(Lake Taihu, The Ling Shan Buddha-88 meters high!) and all kinds of parks and festivals that happen year round.

Most trainers now live less than a 5 minute walk from the school.

The city of Wuxi is s mall bustling city of 4.5 million people located in Jiangsu province about 70 minutes by train from Shanghai. There is excellent public transportation, the city is clean and on the whole it is a friendly and well-off community with many things to see and do. There are several large Western-owned super markets so if you like to cook you will find all the "home cooking" foodstuffs you need. There are Western restaurants and all kinds of different styles of Chinese restaurants such as Cantonese, Sichuan, Peking etc. A plate full of noodles with vegetables, very tasty, is about 7rmb.There are local Gyms to keep fit and other sports centers to play basketball, volleyball, table tennis and even a summer softball league.

We are looking for teachers who want to begin their ESL career as well as those who are enjoying the beginning of a 2nd career. Age isn't a factor, however, attitude certainly is. If you work and play well with others, enjoy the team approach to work, enjoy laughing and learning then this may be the place for you. We are a diverse group by age and nationality and welcome your interest in joining our school.

We hope to hear from you soon.

All applications should be submitted in MS Word, and the must contain COPIES OF:
1.a valid passport with photo
2.a TESOL, CELTA ETC. diploma
3.a minimum college diploma
4.a MAXIMUM 2 page resume
5.a letter of reference with email contact
6.a phone number where you can be reached
Email all applications to akaulins@gmail.com attention: Andis Kaulins

Photos of Wuxi Snow




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Snow Day!

The school closes at 1700 today.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Slippery Wuxi, Foreigners and Chinese.

I damn near fell down seven times on my way home from work this evening.  Slush on smooth surfaces can be dangerous. 

I was hoping it would be a snow day today.  No such luck.  Pretty well all the students showed up.  The only no show was a trainer who was probably hung over from the night before.  I will have to deal with that tomorrow.  I didn't appreciate have to teach for four hours straight. 

It is a sad fact that a lot of the English teachers here are alcoholics, drug addicts or losers from their home countries and make me ashamed to say I am an English teacher in China.  I heard some come to China to avoid paying child support.  I have had a few tell me that if they went back to their home countries, they would be put in shackles.  Many come to shag Chinese women.  Some come here fraudulently to do some scheme.  I have heard of a girl with no high school diploma coming here to take university courses using false papers.  Many come to travel and just put in time to pay for their vacation.  The teaching for this latter bunch is a nuisance. 

But that is not to say that all English teachers here are fuck-ups.  Some do come here as a career change and this is where the opportunities are in the teaching profession.  In the unionized atmosphere of Canada and America, the door would be barred for many people.  That is why I came.  And I didn't want to drive trucks anymore.  Having visited China a year before I went to teach, I had taken the opportunity to go to a school in China and see what the students were like.  They weren't like the drugged-out criminal element you would have to endure in Canada.

How do I rate myself among the teachers?  I am definitely not of the alcoholic or drug addict ilk.  I could have stayed at my job in Canada and made three times the money I am making here.  So I don't think I was totally fucked up when I decided to come here.  But I leave that for others to judge.

Now, that I have expressed my cynicism about foreigners, I will say that the past week made me more cynical about the Chinese.

Firstly, the Chinese New Year Dinner that was held last night cynicized me.  A big deal was made by the Chinese staff about making a program for the show, games and the prize draws for the Dinner.  They told me that I was to be a M.C. for the Dinner.  They asked me to make a program for the Dinner.  So I typed out a quick program list.  They added more detail and made a program in Chinese.  The Chinese then went through the process of translating it and presenting it to me.  So I went to the dinner thinking I would be a M.C. the whole evening.  It didn't happen and then I noticed that they were deviating from the order of the program they had given me.  It was a case and being told something, and then later having to exclaim "what the fuck?" because nothing that they had lead you to understand was going to take place was actually taking place.  This often happens to foreigners in China.

Not that I really want to be M.C. of the affair anyway.  The last two school parties have been tedious affairs.  At the recent School Christmas Party,  the Chinese staff insisted on having 20 or so performances most of which had nothing to do with Christmas.  That party quickly became tedious.  Instead of letting people relax at these parties, the Chinese have to make people be happy so they have to make them play games or watch amateur musical performances.  And that was what happened last night.  They wanted the foreigners to participate in childish games like breaking balloons.  I found that all the activities took away from the eating.  As well, none of us could relax.

I also have a feeling that the prize draw at the Dinner was fixed.  I was asked to make the drawing for the lower grades of prizes.  Now, the school had a big box from which one could draw numbers.   But instead of being asked to draw from the box, one of the girls, with four cups in her hands, gave me a cup at a time to draw from.  It was like they had sorted the tickets into batches from which each batch or group could win a prize.  Later, the big prizes were drawn for and no one from the back of the room won any. 

Now, I mentioned that I was involved in a Olympic TV spot that will be shown on a local Wuxi News Shows.  I was asked to come up with an idea for it thinking that we were to teach a few English words to viewers.  My idea was to teach about the medals:  Gold, Silver and Bronze.  But then as soon as the TV crew arrived, I was informed that this was not why we were doing the spots.  Instead, it was for the female TV reporter to do a light-hearted comedy skit about the Olympics.   So what I had written was not used and instead the reporter came up with this idea to show that Foreigners were strong but the Chinese were smart.  The Chinese, she said, win Olympic medals in "smart sports".  I played along eager to be seen on TV.  Although now, I hope my spot is not seen by any foreigners.  Thankfully, not many will be watching.  What was done was offensive to them.

Wuxi Expats perform Drunken Pilot skit

Trainers Simon and Dennis perform an old Dean Martin skit.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Snow won't stop.

There was another heavy dump of snow last night.   You can go here to see that as well as some photos from last night's CNY dinner.

Tony and the wife didn't go the dinner.  I decided it wasn't worth it to have my wife carrying a child on slippery streets.

I am working today and thankfully things are slow.  The snow and the wine and the beer having me feeling lethargic.

Using bullits in this blog is not such a good idea.  The template I am using shows the text too narrowly.  I am not sure how to widen it.  I have looked at the template code but it is a mystery to me as to how I can widen it. 

Obama won the South Carolina primary.  That was predicted since his constituency is heavily represented in that state.  But the pollsters still predict that he cannot beat Hilary when all is said and done.  She has too much support in the other states.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stories my Students have told me.

  • I asked the question about whether it was bad to get advice from your enemies.  The idea being that maybe your friends won't tell you the truth because they didn't want to hurt your feelings.  I instead had a student tell me that at his company he would get advice from rival companies by phoning them and pretending to be customer.
  • Tiao Zi is a deep fried bread like snack food that you get in Wuxi.  I asked the students to tell what slang words they had for policemen in Wuxi (like the word "cop").  They told me that the police in Wuxi are called Tiao Zi because all they seem to be doing is eating the stuff.  I of course told them of the noted affinity that policemen have in Canada for Donut Shops.
  • Another student told me that the police have been called tiger stripes because their uniforms had the stripes and color patterns of a tiger.  In Beijing, the police are cynically referred to as robbers in uniform.
  • When a student was in primary school, a public show of criminals came to their school.  "This man was a thief and he got twenty years" was the basic pattern of this show.  I have heard tales from other Expats of convicted criminals being made to apologize in public for their wrong-doings.

snow and more snow today in Wuxi.



So much for Global Warming in Wuxi...
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Finally!

  • Now, I can blog.
  • Today, I sat through two meetings, arm wrestled a female TV reporter, got videotaped having my clock cleaned at Table Tennis, mopped a kitchen flood at 630 AM, kissed my wife and asked some students what they had been in a previous life.  It was a very silly day actually.
  • I am glad to get some response to my blunt comment about the Democratic Party Nominees of for President in 2008.  I wish someone could prove me wrong rather than scoff.  The Democrats' default belief is that the Republicans are racist.  I used to think that myself but I came to the realization that the Republicans are over that sort of thing and that the Democrats haven't quite escaped their own particular prejudices - one being that you need the power of the state to help certain groups of people and that these people could not survive if the Democrats took care of them.  Here, Christopher Hitchens makes a better case than I ever could the irony of the Democrats trying to transcend something while at the same time using that something as a reason to vote for them.  I see no difference between Hilary, Obama and the previous sleds to have received the Democrat's nomination like John Kerry, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis and George McGovern. 
  • On my way to work, I was about to pass between a street garbage can and a vending cart when I had to suddenly give way to a man on a scooter who evidently thought it was quicker to ride in the pedestrian path than on the path designated for his mode of transportation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mini Flood.

I had to get up early this morning to clean a little flood in the kitchen.  Our water machine leaked overnight.  Having mopped up the floor, I did some tests and saw that the machine leaks when the  heater starts to boil the water.  I thought that the problem was because of temperature.  These days, the apartment feels like it is 5 degrees inside. And so having the heater on 24/7 must have caused a break in a seal due to a big change in temperature.  Either that, or that is Chinese quality for you.

What a way to start the work week!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thank God I am a Sinatra Fan.

Being a man with modest means means that I have to rely on my own imagination to amuse my little son Tony.  I can't afford to buy the Toner those fancy things that you can suspend above a baby so they can practice using their hands.  I can't afford those little toys that you press the button and a kid's ditty can be heard.  I have to amuse and educate him the old-fashion way using my memory of things I saw growing up and using my imagination.  This is when I can thank fate or the gods or God for being a Sinatra fan. 

Thanks to Sinatra, I have some knowledge of the popular music before 1955.  There is this thing called the Great American Songbook that the likes now of Rod Stewart are looking to for material to sing.  It is where I go when I think of things I can sing to my Tony.  I couldn't imagine trying to sing, to Tony, having knowledge of only of "Smoke over Water" or "Spank the Hoe".   Thankfully, I have heard of trips "to the moon on gossamer wings".  I want something that my parents and their generation may have listened to - it is the sort of musical knowledge that was incorporated into the cartoons I watched growing up like Bugs Bunny. 

The knowledge that went into the shows and books I was exposed to by my parents growing up is in danger of being taken for granted and thus forgotten.  When, I took to listening to Sinatra and to collecting all his albums, I received a musical education that I never got in my dumbed-down public education.  Hopefully, I can transfer my imperfect knowledge  to Tony and he can improve on it.

Wuxi China pedestrian tunnel

In this video, you can see the sorts that hang out in pedestrian tunnels in Wuxi. You will see beggars and hawkers.

Wuxi Snack Food.

Do you want to give this apples-on-a-stick a try? My wife likes them. I had them once.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tony goes to the Clinic.

  • We took Tony to the clinic this morning.  He got a needle, or a "sting" as my wife said but he only cried for a second or two.  A brave little boy he is.
  • Our students are always on the Internet watching how their stocks are doing.  I had one student tell me last night at supper time that his stocks had gone down big time.  In these times Seablogger feels compelled to show the Dow Jones average at the top of his site.
  • This afternoon, the wife and I will go to our new apartment.  How will we be able to pay for in these times of World Economic Crisis?
  • I sometimes think the school has turned into a Gong Show.  Whatever.  I can't cry about it.  I can only laugh and do my best.  That is all I can do.

It is the weekend! Blah!

  • It is the weekend for me as Wednesday and Thursday are my days off.  What am I going to do?  I will go to the New Apartment and take video since my wife didn't.  And I will relax by watching the conclusion of the third season of the Wire.  Maybe,  I will also finish No Remorse by Tom Clancy, a novel I borrowed from the King.
  • I spent some time having to type up a program for the Chinese New Year Dinner that the School is having this Saturday night.  They can't keep it simple.  They want to have a show with 15 presenters and stupid childish games.
  • I was just told that the boss of our school boss, Mr L., is making his wife Mrs. L., a Vice-President in at the school.  I don't know what the hell it means.  But that is China for you - guanxi, corruption and nepotism.  I asked my wife about this.  She told me this thing happened all the time in Chinese companies.  Unfair but common!  were her exact words when I questioned her more about it.
  • Can Rudy G make a rally?  Seablogger and Denis Prager hope so.  And so do I.  I can't have the King boasting if Mitt Romney won.  Although, this boasting would be a small price to pay for not having Hilary elected.
  • Is Obama finished?
  • AKIC blogspot readers can be the first to see the latest Wuxi Tony Update Video:

 

Monday, January 21, 2008

More snow in the Wux.

  • It is snowing this afternoon in Wuxi.  The most snow I have ever seen in the four years I have been here has been this year, I can now say.
  • The most senior Chinese study assistant has quit here.  They are only paying him 3500 rmb a month.  Not much pay if you ask me.
  • Friday, I may have a chance to appear on the local TV news show talking about the Olympics.

Wah! Yawn. Wah!

  • I was ready to give up.  Not being able to sleep, I was thinking John McCain had the Republican nomination in the bag and he was going to battle Hilary in the General Election.  But now, there is talk of Mitt Romney leading in Florida.  What a baffling election it could still be.  Maybe, Rudy G can come from behind and grab the nomination and like a knight in shining armour slay Hilary's chances in the General Election.  We will see.
  • If McCain does wrap up the nomination by February, the next six months are going to be very boring, electoral-wise.  I could only talk about McCain - Hilary for so long without wanting to shot myself.
  • Tony did not get to sleep till two AM last night.  It seemed he didn't want to.  Just before he went asleep, he amused us by his protesting being mixed in with yawns. 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

NFL. Wuxi Tony Update #18.

  • I had a hard time getting coverage of the NFL this morning. It seemed that there was a plot to prevent one from watching the live feed of the Packers-Giants game on the Internet. I was watching it and then the feed stopped. To add to the frustration, I could not get NFL.com to at least get up-to-date reports of the game. I was reduced to refreshing a scoreboard feature on the less than satisfactory tsn.ca site.
  • So it will be the Giants and the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
  • A 1300 start today. I am lazing about in the morning in the apartment.
  • There is a expat site from Shanghai that I should pay more attention to: The Shanghaiist. It is informative. However, I saw a couple postings today that make me wonder about the views of the people who write for it. A collapse at a construction site is is indirectly blamed on America. And then there is this CD review that starts off with a statement about European racism and seems to connect a racist Churchill with Eugenics and the Holocaust.
  • The wife is going to the new apartment today to keep the workmen honest. I have asked her to take a video for the Wuxi Jenny Apartment Update series.
  • In the meanwhile, here is Wuxi Tony Update #18:

Wuxi Tony Update #17

Championship Monday a bust

  • I am having a hard time keeping track of the NFL here in the Kaulins household.  I had assumed I could follow it easily on the Internet, but that has turned into a fantasy.  I can't get the NFL's website this morning or ESPN.  I was watching a live feed of the Packers-Giants game but it went away on the TVU player.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another Rainy Day.

  • Same as it was yesterday, it is raining in Wuxi and I am working ten to six at the school.  At 1300, I will have a conversation class about teenage pregnancy.  How am I going to make that topic last an hour?  I ask myself.
  • I will tell the students in the above salon class about taboo, stigmas, prostitution, abortion, out-of-wedlock births and bastards.
  • I went to the HB Wuxi German Pub last night with the King and his Consort Steph who had been invited to a party there.  So the wife and I went along for a ride.  The reason for the party, I understood, was to christen the Pub for the new management that was taking over.  I saw a lot of laowei (foreigners) there and a bunch of Chinese who came in a group that surely must have been bussed in to increase the attendance.  There was a buffet which we got to late.  However, the bread and cold cuts served were good. 
  • The HB Pub itself is huge.  The restaurant area is bigger than the Blue Bar.  We later saw that there was a bar area (also bigger than the Blue Bar) downstairs.  The HB Wuxi is in a mall that must be bigger than Baoli.  The Mall building has a huge open area.  Look from one end of the open area to the other and people on the other end are the size of ants.  I am continually amazed how big Wuxi is.  Every month, I see something new and huge that I never knew existed in, what the locals say is, a small city.  The mall and the HB, however, do have a feeling of overbigness to them.  I wonder if they can fill the mall with stores and shoppers, and if the HB can fill its bar and restaurant areas with patrons on a regular basis. 
  • The King of Wuxi was not too happy about the service we received at the pub.  Once we were sat, no one came to serve us until we flagged someone down.  I tried a wheat beer which I found too heavy for my digestive system.  I ended up feeling bloated and so I had to go home.
  • They tell me a good crowd was at the Blue Bar to send Kelson off and that a lot of tequila was drank.  I wish I could have stopped by to said farewell but I wasn't up to it after drinking the heavy beer.  I also had a feeling of guilt for leaving Tony at home with his mother-in-law.  The poor fellow has been out for a while because of the cold and wet weather we have been having lately.
  • The most he-man of sporting days occurs early Monday morning, Wuxi time, as the NFL has its two conference championship games that determine the participants in the Super Bowl.  Conference Championship Sunday is a day for Football fans, he-men as it were. - a festival of manliness.  The Super Bowl is a event where the Football is secondary.  I have been invited to Super Bowl parties by people who weren't the least interested in Football.  So even when I was watching the game at a Super Bowl party, I was watching it alone. 
  • What doesn't Soccer have a World cup every year?  I know, I know about the logistics of it.  But if it was held every year, the boredom of it would quickly come apparent to all.  They need to hold every four years for the simple fact that it gives fans long enough time to forget how boring the last final was.  Soccer Fans must have bad memories.  It is not like they have many statistics to remember or goals to count.
  • 43 is too old for everything but politics it would appear.  Maybe, that should be my next career move.  Now, Obama is running his campaign on the audacity of hope.  To paraphrase, Obama believes that this stuff about planning and thinking things through should not tarnish the hope we should all feel by being together singing we love each other around a camp fire.  I think this is a load of hogwash.  But, I wouldn't want to seem the angry fart.  My campaign motto in any political endeavor would be Hopeful Realism.  Matter of fact, I think I will make that the title of my autobiography.
  • The results of the Republican Primary results are depressing.  I will have to learn to like McCain.
  • In my English Corner of Speakers' Corner, I will try to get the students to do a mock draft of the greatest teachers of all time.  The idea is that a few groups will draft great people who can teach them things they need to know about math and science and so on.
  • I have just finished  doing the Teenage Pregnancy salon (conversation class).  My students told me that more and more high school students are getting abortions over the Summer.  I was surprised to hear how much advertising for abortion clinics can be seen and heard on TV, Radio, Signage and Newspapers.  And this advertising is very direct:  come to us and we will do the job for you painlessly.  Finally, I had a student tell me that she has seen abandoned babies in the countryside, thrown in a ditch.

Classic Poem and Classic AKIC Video.

Here is another classic Tang Dynasty poem:

Wang Wei

A FARM-HOUSE ON THE WEI RIVER


In the slant of the sun on the country-side,
Cattle and sheep trail home along the lane;
And a rugged old man in a thatch door
Leans on a staff and thinks of his son, the herdboy.
There are whirring pheasants? full wheat-ears,
Silk-worms asleep, pared mulberry-leaves.
And the farmers, returning with hoes on their shoulders,
Hail one another familiarly.
...No wonder I long for the simple life
And am sighing the old song, Oh, to go Back Again!

Here is a classic AKIC video of Grand Canal boat traffic:

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

Want to teach English in China?

Part of my job now at my school is to recruit teachers.  I will use this blog to try so. 

HyLite Language School in Wuxi, China is looking for ESL teachers.  You teach 25 hours a week during the 40 hours you would be at our school.  Lesson Plans are provided but you will have to adapt the material to the students' needs.  The School pays 8000 rmb a month plus a living allowance.  Your air ticket and visa costs are reimbursed by the school.  Wuxi, is a growing industrial city that is now 1 hour by train from Shanghai.  Please send your CV to akaulins@gmail.com for more details.

Forty Ideas for ESL Speakers Corners or English Corners.

Here is an attempt to get hits for blogs from ESL Teachers.

What shall I talk about today in Speaker's Corner? is a question many an ESL or EFL teacher asks him or herself?  Here are some things I have done which have proved quite effective with my students here are at HyLite in Wuxi, China:

  • The Jeopardy Quiz game is always popular.
  • Tell me about your keys.  Have each student bring out their keys or key chain.  It is an easy way to generate conversation.  You can also learn a lot about each student's personalities.
  • Have the student tell you what they see as they go from home to school or work.
  • Lying Contest.  Have groups of students make lies.  Choose a student panel of judges to grade each lie on imagination, plausibility and exaggeration.
  • If it is a day of unusual weather, talk about it.  A snow day generated a half hour of conversation one time.
  • The consequences game.  You can find the game on the Internet.
  • The bragging game.  Have student try to top each other's boast.
  • Ask students what their word of the year, month and week is.
  • Talk about idioms.  If it snows, talk about snow idioms.
  • Question period.  Have the students ask you question.  But you must put the question back to the students.
  • Talk about teasing.
  • Talk about quarreling.
  • Talk about everyday things.
  • Talk about  something you saw in the street.
  • On this day in history.
  • Top ten lists.
  • Reverse role role plays.  Men play women, students play teachers in everyday situations.
  • Have students act the famous Stella! scene from A Streetcar named Desire.
  • Press conferences or question periods.  Students ask the questions.  A few students can be the interviewees.  Students can pretend they are someone else.  I had men being women in a press conference role play.  The questions asked were funny.
  • Have the students tell you something you may not know about their country.
  • Drawing shapes.  Have students give oral instructions to other student to draw shapes on paper.  After, they compare results.  Is this what you wanted me to draw?
  • One word at a time sentence.  Students, one after another, add a word to a sentence.
  • Talk about local, national and international news that might interest the students.
  • Childhood memories.
  • The Hokey Pokey Song.  It is even fun to do with adults.
  • Mock Elections.
  • Speaking contests with students as judges.
  • Who are these Chinese people.  Go the Internet and find lists of important Chinese people.
  • They show what they  have in their wallets or purses.
  • Show them your photo album.
  • Show the students old photos of yourself.
  • Choose nicknames for a sports team coming from your town.
  • Talk about traffic and near-accidents the students or you might have been in.
  • Ask the students if any of them have almost been killed.
  • Best school time memories.  Worst school time memories.
  • Take newspaper headlines.  Have students guess what the details of the story are.
  • Have you ever........?
  • Yiddish.  Yes!  Talk about Yiddish words that have entered the English language.
  • What happens when we die?  What do you want heaven to be like?
  • Survivor.  Each student is given a role to play.  The watching students can vote the students off the stage.

Cold Rainy Day in Wuxi.

  • This Saturday (or AKIC Tuesday) is starting off cold, wet and miserable.   I pity the people I saw who were getting married today.
  • This article tries to make sense of Taiwan's parliamentary elections.  Is Taiwan warming up to China?
  • Obama says that the Republicans have had better ideas than the Democrats the last ten or fifteen years.  Or so Hilary Clinton says.
  • Tony was in a happy state this morning when he awoke.  The little fellow is bolstering the spirits around the Kaulins household.  That should be my job!
  • Tony is getting better and better with his hands.  He can transfer things from hand to hand.  He is grabbing onto sheets.  We can occupy him by playing handsies with him.  "What are handsies?" you ask.  It is what I call it when Tony and I grab at each other's fingers for a period of time.  Tony seems to want to test the strength of his grip and his dexterity.  I want to keep him occupied so that he falls asleep.
  • Word on the net is that Christopher Hitchens is trying to quit smoking.  Here is his take on the U.S. Democratic Party's presidential contest. 
  • I hear Kelson the Brazilian is leaving Wuxi and never coming back.  There will be a party for him Saturday night at the Blue Bar.  I hope I can go.
  • The Duke of Wuxi took his wife and newborn child out for the first time yesterday.  They went to a buffet at one of the fancy Wuxi downtown hotels.
  • Another Tang Dynasty poem for your enjoyment:
  • Wei Yingwu
    SETTING SAIL ON THE YANGZI
    TO SECRETARY YUAN


    Wistful, away from my friends and kin,
    Through mist and fog I float and float
    With the sail that bears me toward Loyang.
    In Yangzhou trees linger bell-notes of evening,
    Marking the day and the place of our parting....
    When shall we meet again and where?
    ...Destiny is a boat on the waves,
    Borne to and fro, beyond our will.

  • I had a no-show at 1800 last night, so I pulled out this copy of the Norton Anthology of English Literature and read some Shakespeare, Pope and Samuel Johnson.  Sometimes, you have to get away from the Internet.  I have recently  tried reading Montaigne on the Internet but I find myself wishing I had a book instead to leaf through his essays.  One essay of his entitled The Education of Children seems worthy of repeated readings.
  • My poor wife has to head off to the new apartment in this weather. 

A poem and a video.

Here is a poem from the Chinese Classic 300 poems of the Tang Dynasty:

 

Li Bai
DRINKING ALONE WITH THE MOON


From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me --
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring....
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
...Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.

 

And here is the latest video of the Classic Youtube Wuxi Tony Update Series:

 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #16

I try to get Tony talking with no success. Pardon the darkness.

Back to Work

  • Back to Work.  What horrors await me today?
  • Why I like Fred.  Is Fred Thompson the Republican flavor of the moment?  I pegged him as my number two choice in the GOP race.  Now, I see people starting to talk about him.  Not that I had anything to do with the start of that talk.  Fred is now the adult in the presidential race.  After the Clinton years, this talk of being adult-looking  as a plus for a candidacy has been heard more and more. 
  • Seablogger links to a Kafka is coming to Canada piece by David Warren.  Islamics in Canada using Human Rights Commissions to quell criticism only seems to prove they have the totalitarian tendencies that they are trying to prove they don't have.
  • The King of Wuxi is working on his latest Wuxi Expat newsletter.
  • Tony gives me a good morning smile.  Maybe it won't be such a bad day after all.
  • It takes forever for laundry to dry.  I have been wearing the same long johns now for three days.

Links and stuff.

  • Popular Mechanics opines on Ethanol.
  • A Chinese man talking to my wife, as I stood near, suddenly starting talking in English to her.  He had the urge.
  • Who can you trust?
  • That Clinton and Monica thing was ten years ago. How time flies!
  • Tony progress report:  He can now use his hands to pull the soother out of his mouth.  Also, I gave him two rattles to play with.  I put one in each hand.  He banged them together.
  • I am spending the afternoon with the Toner as the wife and her mother go out.  I was playing with the Toner in the bedroom and watching the third season of the Wire on DVD.  He has fallen asleep so I can blog.
  • My obsessions these days besides Tony, Castro dying and Al Gore are the NFL playoffs and the U.S. Presidential Race.  In the NFL, it looks like a Patriots coronation.  The only drama will come from the Giants and Packers game.  I think the Giants have a good chance of taking it.  In the Presidential Race, you have  differing contests in the two parties.  The Democratic side is about personalities.  Will the black man or the woman, who happens to be a wife of the ex-president, win?  The Republican side may be a bunch of white guys, but it's race is more about the ideas of the candidates.  John McCain, a veteran and so a military guy, represents a natural constituency of the Republicans, but he is getting hammered for his legislative record.  Huckabee, an evangelical, is getting hammered by Republicans for his leftist ideas on economic policy and foreign policy (All the Democrats see is that he is an evangelical).  Ron Paul, a libertarian, is criticized by many Republicans because of his foreign policy ideas.  Rudy G, a hero of 9/11, is criticized by Republicans for not being enough of a social conservative.  Mitt Romney, a Republican hero for being governor in Massachusetts, is criticized for his flip-flops on positions.  And so it goes. 
  • My list of preferences for the Republican nomination:  Number 1, Rudy G because he seems a capable administrator and very intelligent - I have always been impressed by him, and he wears a dress sometimes; Number 2, Fred Thompson because his statement about the Iranians and their boats is endearing - it is nice to see an American talk tough for once; Number 3, Mitt Romney because he is a capable administrator and conservative - he has the National Review and the King of Wuxi endorsements; Number 4, John McCain, he supported the war in Iraq but I think he is not much of a libertarian; Number 5, Ron Paul, he is so right on economic policy (a libertarian he is)that it is a shame that he is an isolationist - America has a moral duty to look after the world because there is no other power capable (U.N. ha!); and last, Huckabee, his religion does not so much scare me as his being a leftist in too many ways and you can't trust people from Arkansas (He is from the same state as Bill Clinton).
  • China's consumer is stymied by lack of credit.
  • Why does India lag behind China economically?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Our New Apartment.

Here are videos taken inside and outside our new apartment:

 

 You see some photos here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Going to the New House.

  • It is Saturday and Sunday in AKIC land.  For you people who are stuck in your drab normal everyday this-world existence, it is Wednesday and Thursday.  And I feel sorry for you.  I really do.  But by reading this blog, I know I am bringing a little sunshine and even a little common sense into your lives.  And I am not expecting any payment for it.  Anyway, thank you for reading and watching, you rare and sometimes lovely readers and viewers.
  • It feels like it is 5 degrees Celsius in my non-centrally heated Wuxi apartment.  Residences, south of the Yangtze River (and we are south of the Yangtze) in China don't have central heating or insulation.  So zero degrees outside is much more uncomfortable here than in Canada where we could put the central heat on.  In Wuxi, you are subject to drafts and low temperatures inside.
  • I wake this morning with my son Tony beside me.  Unbeknownst to me, sometime in the middle of the night, my wife put Tony in the bed between us.  Not recommended in the manuals but it is cold in the apartment so the little man needs all the heat he can get.
  • The snow yesterday mostly melted.  It still lingers on roofs and untrampled areas.  I hear that in the outskirts of Wuxi where there is less heat radiating from buildings, you will see snow that is greater in firmness and quantity.  I will investigate this personally when I go out to the New House complex, which is in the outskirts, to see how work is progressing on our new apartment.  I will also prove I care about the new apartment.
  • The cafeteria at U.S. congressional cafeteria has gone green.  Here is the link from Seablogger.  I note the puritanism: "We are trying to save the planet here!"
  • David Warren talks about how he and others label him politically.  He prefers to call himself a reactionary.  I like that label.  A reactionary looks at every stupid modern notion and idea , and calls it what it is.
  • More activity in my Facebook group The Misanthrope's Corner.
  • When the wife says mama he baba, Tony looks at our wedding portrait.
  • Time to take a shower.....
  • An Australian comments on Canada's gift to the World.  I asked some students what they thought about this gift and I had one tell me that it would cause wars.
  • Thomas Sowell, a man I wish was advisor to Barak Obama or any Democrat for that matter, writes about the unintended consequences of green policy.
  • I can get a smile from Tony when I say he-ha-hi-ho.
  • It was only for a day that people in China could access my blogspot site without proxy.
  • There is a conflict between the green movement and the movement to reduce poverty.  It can't be talked or legislated away.
  • Elle Presidente tells me we are going to the New House at 1230.
  • The mother-in-law made some dumplings that taste awesome with hot sauce.
  • I wonder if the Golden Age of Wuxi Expatdom has passed, or I just don't get out much these days.  When was this so-called Golden Age? you ask.  When I got here about three years ago.  Wuxi Life and Wuxi softball were starting.  But somehow it just went flat.
  • The King is happy now that Mitt Romney has won the Republican Primary in Michigan.  The King must like guys with nice hair.  He would never vote for me because of my bald spot.  But that is okay because I can always use the bald spot card when we have political discussions.  Although, I don't have to use it often because the King, being a Liberal Party of Canada member, finds himself trying to rationalize the many untenable policies that his party has enacted in Canada like Human Rights Commissions.

Monday, January 14, 2008




This is the most it has snowed in Wuxi in the three or so years I have been here. So much for global warming.
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Interesting Link

Here is an interesting link about China's geo-strategic position in South East Asia:  China's Soft Power.

Four pictures of my son.




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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #15

Tony was happy till he saw the camera.

Beijing Miltary Museum

One of the best videos I ever made I would say. It was taken over a year ago.

There is still snow on the ground.

  • I don't have to be at work till 1300 today so I can sleep in late.  It is a sunny morning.  Snow is on ground though I wouldn't say Wuxi is white.  The snow is staying only in untrampled places which aren't easy to find.  Tony awakes and he greets me with a big smile.
  • Expect photos and videos to be uploaded later, of course.
  • The Giants and Chargers, I see, won playoff games on the road.  So, it will be the Giants and the Packers, and the Patriots and the Chargers in the games that determine the Super Bowl Finalists.
  • Just for interest's sake, I am working through this site.
  • I am also trying to finish a Tom Clancy novel Without Remorse but it is hard to work through it when it is lights out in the bedroom at 1000 PM every night.
  • If you want change, don't look to politicians, look to the market.

Cynical Student. Election in Taiwan.

I had a one-on-one conversation class with a well-spoken student.  The topic was freedom of information.  The student had a lot of interesting things to tell me about it.

He first told me that he didn't believe anything the Chinese government said but he felt safe enough to speak his mind on the mobile and in emails because he was small and unimportant in the scheme of things.

I asked him if he had heard about the recent elevator accident in Wuxi where 24 people were killed.  He told me he had heard nothing about it.  When I told that an accident like that in a city in North America would be very big news that it would be impossible to  get away from, he told me that most people here feel that China has too many people so how important is it if 24 die here in an elevator accident or 50 die there in a mining disaster?

There was an election in Taiwan.  I asked the students about it.  A few had opinions.  One student said that it was good that the KMT won because they want Taiwan to join with the Mainland, or as I said they want the Mainland to join with Taiwan.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not a good day.

  • Not a good Sunday for us. 
  • We had to take Tony to the hospital this morning.  At five AM, I was woken up by my panicking wife because Tony could not move one of his arms.  She thought his arm was broken because   the arm was limp and he was not moving it at all.  But it couldn't have been broken because he would have been screaming loudly.  As it was, he was quiet.  I was able to convince the wife to put Tony to sleep in the crib and see how his arm was in the morning.  I believed his arm had "fallen asleep" because he was sleeping beside the wife.  In the morning, Tony's arm was still limp and so the wife did panic and we had to go to the hospital.  There, the doctor told us that Tony's arm had popped out of joint.  The doctor popped Tony's arm back in and everything was fine.  But I was late for school.
  • I woke up this morning to see snow on the ground.  Of course, it wasn't a lot of snow.  But it the most snow you will see all year in Wuxi.  There are photos in the entry below.
  • I was not able to find TV coverage of the Patriots game on the computer this morning.  The TVU player did not have the Danish Delight channel.
  • I haven't eaten anything yet.
  • The Seahawks were massacred by the Packers.  Winning the over/under bet with Leo does not diminish the disappointment.

Snow (some) in Wuxi.


There was some snow on the ground this morning.
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Tuesday Morning Blogspot Edition.

Yes.  Saturday is Tuesday in the land of AKIC.  This Tuesday (Saturday) is a Super Tuesday Hodgepodge of photos, links and observations.

  • It is a cold and damp morning here in Wuxi.  Some students haven't showed up for classes they booked.
  • Last night, the Toner and I had a good time.  We were playing and he was laughing loudly so that my wife who was in the next room noticed.  A much better way to spend a Friday night than to be at the pub.  There is the love I have been looking for.
  • Racial tensions roil Democratic race.  Ha!  In the party that is supposed to eliminate these things.  That is what all this support for affirmative action has brought to the Democratic Party.
  • All about Fred Thompson.  Thompson rocked in a candidates debate.   Asked about the recent confrontation between United States warships and Iranian speedboats, he suggests casually that if Iran’s Revolutionary Guard becomes more hostile, the Iranians will see those virgins they’ve been looking for.  And now someone says:  Thompson need only sustain this performance for a couple of days before votes, and money, start moving in his direction.  Thompson is my second choice to take the Republican nomination.  I also think he would make a great VP on the Republican ticket as well.
  • We have these two very bad students.  Either they don't work or they don't have the aptitude to learn English.  We would normally fail these students and make them repeat the classes till they show some improvement.  But the school wants us to push these students through.  So we will essentially have dumb mutes in classes with normal students.  Management does not want to refund their money.  It seems that all the students care about is the mark and the actual result of their studies.  I protested that this was lacking integrity.  The Chinese management told me that this is China and our economy is not developed yet.  Some of the Trainers are very angry about this.  Some of the Trainers feel it is their business and we can protest but the ultimate decision is with the management.
  • Do you like the new layout?  I may be experimenting with different ones over the next few days.
  • It is nice to have a good student who does the work and knows how to conduct herself in class.  She got a well-deserved "A".  Unlike those students who will get undeserved "D"s.
  • Fish are surfacing this morning in the canal near my apartment.  Dennis, a fellow Trainer, speculates that the fish may all be exhausted and about to die on account of the pollution.  The surfacing of the fish attracted the attention of the locals who passed by it.  Sign of an impending Wuxi Fish apocalypse?
  • More praise for The Wire: the best show on television.  I am currently enjoying the four season tall packaged DVD set I recently bought in Wuxi.
 

Wuxi China construction site.

I took this video Tuesday morning.

Photos taken from my apartment.

The Fog cleared this morning. So I could see something when I looked out the window. Above you can see the view from my veranda. Below you can see the construction site from the vantage point of my bathroom window.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Pink Lights.

  • All Wuxi Expats know about, or should know about, the hair salons in Wuxi that have the pink lights.  If you go there, you won't get a haircut.  I had a discussion with a student about these places.  I told her that I assumed that out-of-town businessmen would frequent these places.   It turned out I was wrong.  The places with the pink lights are in fact visited by poor Wuxi locals.  The women in the pink lights aren't very good looking.  The nicer class of companion can be found in the rich club places which in fact cater to out-of-town businessman.

Back to work.

  • There is a think fog in Wuxi again.  I look out the window and I can't see a damn thing.  Just as well, because for me, as I have oft times said, Friday is Monday in the land of AKIC (though my wife is bucking for me to change this).
  • Damn!  I notice that some links I have posted in this blog don't work.  That will teach me.  I have this program that lets me write WISIWYG blog entries for my two blog sites.  I have been writing the same entry for both sites at times and had assumed that when I changed the entry over from one blog to the other that the links would be kept.  Now, I realize, much to my embarrassment, that they don't. Or maybe it was something else, I did.  I will just have to check more thoroughly before I press the publish button.
  • I am still the bad guy.  My day spent with Tony earned me the title of Mr. Don't-care-about-the-apartment-decorating.  I will go to the new apartment on my next days off.
  • The wife is going to Shanghai this weekend to buy an actual oven range for our new apartment!  Now, I care baby!
  • To wear or not wear long underwear?  That is the question.  Thanks to lack of central heating in Wuxi, you can never escape the cold.  I feel it is necessary some days to put on long johns.
  • NFL playoffs this weekend or I should say this mid-week.  I must think of a betting proposition to make with Leo.  Leo won our bet on the New Hampshire Democratic Primary.  Damn!  No fair that Leo should make money on the victory of someone who is guaranteed to increase human misery.
  • I hope I can watch the playoff games on Danish Delight.  Glug-a-lagen Touchdown!
  • Who has the sexiest legs in Wuxi?  The King of Wuxi of course.
  • Wuxi Tony Update 14.  I show him grabbing onto things.  You may notice that I did a misspeak when I said it was December 10.

The eye on Wuxi


AKIC has the best eyes on all Wuxi goings on.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A son for Fred and Ivy!

Braden Keith Voelkel was born at 1100 AM today (Thursday, January 10, 2008) in Wuxi.  Congratulations!

Links and other stuff.

  • This article says Huckabee has a good chance of securing the Republican nomination despite finishing third in the New Hampshire primary.  I hope this man is wrong.  I can't see the Huckster becoming president.  I also don't want to see it.  If the Huck wins, it would be a victory for the Left.
  • I still think Rudy G can take it.  Of all the candidates, he is the most articulate, most experienced and quickest on his feet.  He hasn't bothered to campaign in the early primaries because really they are like exhibitions games before the regular season.
  • This article says McCain looks likely to get the Republican nomination.  Which just goes to show you.  No one has a definite bead on what is going on in the presidential race.
  • The recent predictions about Obama having a slam dunk in the Democratic primaries are not so sure now.  Seablogger offers some reasons why.
  • Here is the Toner's take on the New Hampshire Primary:

 

Tony on the New Hampshire Primary

As you can see, Tony was baffled when I asked him what he thought of the New Hampshire primary results. Still, but not saying anything he didn't make a fool of himself as many jump on and off the bandwagoneers have.
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News from Fred. Just Me and the Toner.

  • I woke up late this morning and found a message from USA Fred on my phone: Ivy and He are at the hospital.  She is in contractions.  Good luck to them.  I am sure that my inquiry about their baby status a few days ago induced the labour. 
  • Meanwhile in the Kaulins household in Wuxi, we Kaulins's have the following arrangement going: The wife and mother-in-law are going to the New apartment while I look after Tony in the temporary apartment.
  • This bullet form of blogging is the lazy blogger's way to blog.  I can only say that on a day like today, I can't expect to put in the time I need (two or three hours) to write something coherent and thought-out.  I will be constantly interrupted by duty call.
  • The heavy fog, like you saw yesterday in the video, means the pilot student at our school comes to class because the Wuxi airport will be closed.
  • At his Evermore Software office yesterday, the King gave me a demo of how to link documents using EI office 2007.  Thanks King-e-Wingy!

Dangerous driving that I didn't notice.

  • I happen to be taking a taxi today with a driver who knew some English.  But he didn't try to use his English on me till half way through the ride.  He suddenly made a comment to me about something being dangerous.  I nodded my head saying "yeah, yeah!" while trying to figure out what he was talking about.  Finally it dawned on this dim bulb that something dangerous had happened on the road.  Being here three years and jaded fifty times over by the driving here, I had no idea what the danger was.  The driver had cut off about ten people already.  But something had happened to make him say "Chinese Roads very dangerous!".  Anyway, he asked if I was American and I said no (wishing all the while I could say yes) and that I was Canadian.  He then told me he had a sister in Toronto and I felt sorry for her.
  • Most of the so called pundits and experts on the U.S. presidential election don't know what they are talking about.  So much wild speculation going on without taking into account the big picture.  Tony can sound more knowledgeable about the election than the pundits because he won't open his mouth to talk about it.
  • It is time for China to float the Yuan or so says the article in the National Review.  I am of the opinion that Governments don't do their economies any good when they fix prices or their currencies.  It  all comes out in the wash...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Management talking to staff.

Here is a photo I have been meaning to take for a while. On my walk to work, I pass this scene almost everyday. In the photo, you see the manager of a beauty spa talking to workers lined up in a military formation. It is common sight all over Wuxi. The girls above will also do a group dance and calisthenics. The dance I don't mind. But there is no way in hell that you would see North American workers "putting up" with it. The girls above dance and don't seem self-conscious about it at all. But I wonder about the lining up in military formation. Is it a way of organzing groups that the managers picked up in school, and see nothing at all unusual about employing at work? Or are the Chinese plotting to take over the world? I assume the former.
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McCain versus Obama?

That accepted wisdom had been that Hilary Clinton was dead certain to become the new U.S. President by beating out Rudy in the general election.  Now, from Fresh Bilge I came upon an article in the UK daily telegraph that predicts McCain will beat Obama.  I never gave McCain much of a chance.  But it looks like he will win the New Hampshire Republican primary.  You have to love the unpredictability of American Politics.  The article in the Telegraph also compares the attitudes of the Americans and the Brits to American Democracy.  Changing from American coverage to British coverage, the reporter saw:

... the change of tone that was so startling: from the infectious optimism of the American reports to the world-weary cynicism of the British ones (this Obama thing can't possibly be as good as it sounds, and who is this yokel Huckabee?). What was most striking was the contrast between the unembarrassed respect in the US for the democratic process and thus for those who were participating in it, to the vague contempt in Britain for the whole demeaning circus.

I have the King of Wuxi wondering why I am so eagerly following the U.S. presidential election.  He has asked me why I, a Canadian, should care about it.  Patronizing American political blogs like I do, I have got caught up in the excitement.  The King of Wuxi, being a Liberal Party of Canada guy, of course would be cynical about democracy. 

Tiananmen Square Honour Guard

I took this video in December 2007 on my honeymoon in Beijing. It is my third most popular video on Youtube.

Cultural Differences.

Today, I will list some cultural differences between Canada and China that I have seen in my three or so years here in Wuxi.

  • A Chinese teenager will tell you that he spend his weekend with his parents.  A Chinese teenager will tell you he will spend his Friday or Saturday night at home watching t.v. and doing homework.   Teenagers in Canada would be ashamed to say such things.  This is a good thing for China; bad for us.
  • Chinese Drivers will rarely yield to pedestrians.  In the West, it is considered bad form if it is done.
  • Collisions on the street that don't result in anyone being hurt won't result in shouting here in China.  Cut off someone in Canada, you will have an enemy for life.
  • The Chinese think sleeping is a hobby.  No one would say that in Canada.
  • It is not considered unusual to be living with your parents when you are 25 here in China.  In Canada if you do this, you are a loser.
  • Male friends will embrace each other here in China.  I have seen three men walking done the street arms around each other.  It is practically taboo in Canada to do this because you would be considered gay.
  • There is a lack of t-shirts that have to advertise to the world that I have been here, seen that concert or am a fan of that sports team.
  • The Chinese don't have bumper stickers on their cars.
  • Students go to school on Saturday.
  • Students will say they are studying a subject because their parents told them to.  No student would admit to ever listening to anything their parents say in Canada.
  • The Chinese, I am learning, aren't direct like Westerners are.  They will talk around till they get to the point.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Wuxi China Bengal Dog

Is this dog for real?

The wife buys an armoire and a set of drawers. Did Fred and Ivy have their baby yet?

  • The wife went to Furniture City in Suzhou and bought an armoire (really a big closet) and two tall sets of drawers for the apartment.
  • A student asked What is pee-pee and poo-poo?   This question was asked after I had told the students what songs I like to sing to Tony.
  • I bet Leo that Tennessee will either win or lose by less than six points to San Diego.  I also bet him that Obama will beat Hilary in New Hampshire.
  • Die Fidel Die already.
  • The King took us to this place that serves great egg rolls.  I won't tell you where it is.
  • Has USA Fred and Ivy had their baby yet?  The King does not know.
  • John Derbyshire articles about China.
  • I have been raving about the HBO series The Wire which I have watched two seasons of.  Here is an Atlantic article about the creator of the Greatest TV Series ever.
  • I see I lost my bet to Leo on the San Diego game.  Final Score:  San Diego 17, Tennessee 6.
  • There is so much on the Internet.
  • Tony does a roll!  You can watch below.

 

Eminem, DMX, Obie Trice at a Chinese McDonald's

Luis (www.ponquenet.spaces.live.com) took a video and recorded the horrorible vulgar obscene music that a McDonalds in Wuxi was playing this morning.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bitch.

I dug myself in a hole as far as my wife is concerned because I used the b**** word to her about three days ago.  I have tried to say that calling her a b****  was a back-handed tribute to her being a strong woman. 

Here are two links that praise the ideal of bitchiness:  Bring back the red-blooded bitch and Being a bitch will save the world.  I married the wife for her strength but I didn't think too much about her using the strength on me.

Wuxi Tony Update #11

Tony was able to roll over but not when I pointed the camera at him.
Oh well. Next time!