Monday, March 31, 2008

Video of Tony playing with a flashlight.

At this moment, blogspot is available in China.

I published a post, and I was surprised to see my blogspot appear.  I actually don't want it to now because this is where I publish all my stuff that I don't want locals to see.

But whatever, the truth shall set me free!

A sad life.

Jenny told me that a cousin of hers died in Beixing at the age of 39 of cancer.  The details of this woman's life were sad.   

Her first child was a daughter which was of course a bad thing in the countryside.  Her second child was a boy.  After the birth, she had an operation so she could not bear any more children. 

In the countryside of China, every house has a cess pool in which all their refuse goes.  The first time I had seen one, I was sick to my stomach.  I remember seeing a dead baby piglet floating in one of these pools.   In was in one of these cesspools that the woman's son drowned.  After this, she had to undo the operation in hopes of having another son, but she had a daughter. 

The tragedy of losing a son and the operations on her must surely have contributed to her getting cancer.

Olympic English. Another dumb idea from the wife of the President.

I did an Olympic English event yesterday where I talked to about 200 teenage women about the Olympics.  Lord knows if they understood me.  At the end of the class, one student asked me what I thought about some European country not going to the Olympics.  I said I hadn't heard about it (I have found no information on the Internet about any country boycotting although I did read Sakorzy was thinking of it) and said it was a shame if they did.

The VP at our school, who happens to be the wife of the President of the school's mother corporation, wants the foreign trainers to move into different offices in the school in order to interact more with the Chinese study advisors whose English needs to be improved.  She wants this move to be done by the end of the week.  This woman just made my job very difficult.  To begin with, it was an idea that had been tried last year and was quickly abandoned.  This imagined interaction between foreign trainer and Chinese tutor never happened.  Some foreign trainers just ended up feeling isolated.  The Chinese tutors didn't seem interested in improving their English.  (Why don't they hire people who can speak English instead of pissing off the good employees with their dumb rules?)  The VP continued on with the Chinese habit of not giving us enough time to prepare properly for any of their hair-brained ideas.  The fucking Chinese always tell you things at the last minute!  Pardon my French.  None of the study advisors or trainers wants to move.  Some have told me straight out that they don't want to and won't. 

I will talk to the Chinese management today to see what I can do to come up with a better way of improving the tutor's English without pissing off everybody.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What are the Chicoms up to now?

The Internet has been slow the past week.  Foreigners at our school and others in Wuxi have been complaining about not getting Hotmail, Yahoo mail, and Facebook.  As one Englishman said, it seems the Chicoms are trying to block sites that provide user-content.  This inconvenience is sure to be with us as the Olympics approach.

The slow Internet makes it impossible for me to edit mistakes I have caught on the blog.  I stuck an extra "about" in my Deloris Morris entry that I can do nothing about to fix.

My best month ever.

At both my blogs sites, according to sitemeter, March 2008 has been my best month ever for visitors.  I want to thank all the rare readers who visit this site.  While the readership is small, I do get the occasional comment and email from readers who appreciate my efforts.  They make it all worthwhile.

Thank you very much.

No Facebook!

I can't get facebook these days!  So if anyone is trying to reach me there, please send an email to instead.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The King of Wuxi hires Deloris Morris as his election campaign chief.

The King of Wuxi has announced the appointment of Deloris Morris as head of King of Wuxi for President 2008 election operations.  Morris was the  former campaign strategist for the Soviets before 1989 and more recently for Saddam Hussein in the last election he had before he was toppled by the Americans.  The announcement surprised many who had expected him to announce that yours truly AKIC would be running the campaign. 

In an exclusive interview with AKIC, his majesty cited the results earned by Morris for her former clients as his reason for choosing her.  "You can't argue with 99% vote totals.  Results like that are proof of excellent election campaign management.  I couldn't find one campaign strategist in North America or Europe who had results anyway close to that.  The best ones there seem able to get 60%, a bare pass if you ask me.  With Deloris Morris as my campaign manager I can achieve the unity that my opponents in the election about can only blow hot air about."

Asked why it was that no other election campaign in the West had hired Morris,  his majesty said that election campaign strategists are notoriously jealous and intimidated by the success of others in their line of work.

Apartment Decoration Update.

Saturday, my wife went to our new apartment to monitor the progress being made in the decoration.  She took three videos which you can see below.

Below you can see the work that has been done in the controversial bathroom.




In this video, you can see what has been done in the kitchen:




Finally, you can see what is being done in the other rooms of the apartment.  You will see that they have put down the boards on which the flooring will be laid.


What was doing in my apartment yesterday morning.


An afternoon with the King of Wuxi. A rare evening's blogging.

I can blog in the evening because there is no one sleeping in the second bedroom in which our computer is located.  This rare respite from in-laws will change tomorrow when Jenny's natural mother comes to help her look after Tony.

While the wife was looking after the new apartment, We (that being Tony and I) spent Saturday afternoon with his majesty the King of Wuxi and his consort Steph and Prince Thomas.

We went to Bolters for lunch.  I enjoyed their burger.

From there, it was off to a lumber yard because his majesty is going to construct a deck in his new apartment.  At the lumber yard, I played with the kids and thus attracted a crowd of Chinese who presumably had never seen a foreigner play with two foreign-looking children before.  One thing I do like about these encounters is that I can get ladies to hold Tony and relief myself of the burden of holding his now 11 kg frame.

The King in preparation for his bid for the U.S. presidency, has shaved his beard.  The last president he knew to have had a beard was Abe Lincoln who was shot.  While Lincoln surely wasn't the last president to sport a beard, the ones who did were non-entities historically so the King reasoned that to be clean-shaven would increase his chances of winning the election and not getting shot. 

The King and I are making up our own fairy tales to tell our children.  I am telling my son and his son Thomas political allegories where the moral is don't vote Democratic (in the case of the U.S.) and Liberal (in the case of Canada).  For instance I told Thomas the story of a politician named Goldilocks who tried to be everything to all three bear voters and thus earned the murderous wrath of Papa Bear when the promises she made to the other two bears increased his taxes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A plea for a King of Wuxi - Romney ticket! What's doing. David Warren.

If John McCain doesn't put him on the ticket, there will always be a place for Mitt Romney as the VP on the King of Wuxi ticket.  As a matter of fact, I wonder why Romney would pair up with the old fart McCain when he could instead join  the team of youthful Scottish dynamism that would bring about  real change, that is, the daily change of underwear famously promised by his majesty.  Furthermore, Romney's reputation for flip-flopping on issues would be a boon to the King of Wuxi ticket because his majesty loves pancakes, and a good piece of barbecued steak grilled to perfection on a open fire.  Romney would also provide the King of Wuxi with the hair, that his majesty's other choice for VP (yours truly AKIC) lacks.


Saturday morning in the apartment and all is peaceful at the moment.  Tony was up at seven and so were the rest of us.  Now he is having his morning nap.  Jenny's father returned to Beixing this morning so just She and I will look after Tony.  When I go to work, she will be by herself which worries me.  I saw how her exhaustion drove her to madness two days ago.


David Warren talks about the emptiness of modern life without a belief in God.  I like reading Warren because I find his views different, hard-hitting and forcibly said without a trace of gloopity-goo.  That is, he has the proper tone of contrariness without being overly sentiment.  Talk to him and you know you are not talking to a fanatic.  I think he would hold up well to the scoffing his views would get if I expressed them myself to others.  Frankly, I would be intimidated to talk like he does.  But his views filled with reason and skepticism about those who disagree with him seem more than just a scoff but thoughts thought out well.  It is a shame he has to go on holiday even though he does deserve it.

I also appreciate Warren because his criticisms of me, unlike the leftists who would have me thinking I want must to bring back segregation and slavery because I won't vote for Obama, are true and to the point.  In the column I have linked, he writes this:

.....describing one person, who varies light reading with an addiction to Facebook and other Internet treats, I might be describing a cross-section of what I call “postmodern man.” He lives as a cipher in a complex “mixed” economy, a tiny little interchangeable cog in a vast dysfunctional machine, designed by competing simpletons to produce “the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” And if you look at all deeply into his psyche, you will find that he is sad.

So much of what he says here, hits home.

What are my views about religion or God?  I would be Jewish or Catholic if I would be anything.  Looking at the Buddhism here leaves me cold.  The symbols do nothing for me.  They seem ugly and do not say anything to me about my life.  Of course, I am looking at religion in a regime that once tried to rid itself of it but is now tolerating it for the purpose of keeping itself in power.  I have thought to become Catholic though it is hard for me now because I don't think my wife would at all appreciate my doing so.  One attempt I made to become Catholic faltered because the people I met seemed to be trying so hard to be hip and Catholic at the same time.

Saturday is my day off.

I will have a day off tomorrow.  My wife plans to have me look after Tony all day while she goes to the new apartment.

I would like to take the Toner for a beer or watch videos with him.  I will have to wait.  If the weather allows (it looks like it will rain this evening), I will take Tony to the park.

If you have seen the video I did with Tony recently where we were at Chongan Temple and he attracted a few onlookers, you may have noticed that I find these encounters embarrassing and tedious.  Thank God, I am not famous.  I would have to deal with these encounters all the time.  Sometimes, I will not take an elevator with a crowd of Chinese to avoid the curious eyes.  I have had Chinese come up to the pram on the street and lift the pram cover so they can look at Tony.  Mixed-Race babies are a source of fascination for the Chinese.  I have been able to understand some Chinese saying how white Tony looks when they do get a glimpse at him.

Maybe I will watch FOX news on the computer.  That is what I am doing now. 

145,000 views of my videos on Youtube.  The video of the dog with stripes is my most popular.

My wanting to write about the U.S. presidential election is at a lull at the present.  The election is too long.  I will say I thought that the Obama speech about race was lacking.  The insights he had were made by the likes of Thomas Sowell, noted black conservative, years before.  There were so many points Obama missed like the success of Asians in America.  His solutions were not insightful at all - the same old, same old that destroyed blacks in the first place.

I can't get

The baseball season is starting soon.  I will follow the season despite being in China and MLB's ridiculous wild card system. 

I wanted to preview the season today but I can't get the site.  I don't think the Chinese are blocking it but I did get a message saying the site was too busy. 

Which raises the question why would it be so busy?

Irregardless, go Mariners!

The Wuxi Subway System

The latest issue of WuxiLife magazine features the map for the proposed Wuxi subway system.  I was surprised by its ambition.  There will be five lines whenever the construction is completed.  When I first saw the map, I worried because I couldn't find the stop which is to be built near our new apartment.  That was one of the reasons I bought an apartment in what otherwise would be whoop-whoop boonie city.  I took the map to my wife and I was relieved to see that she could find it.  Our new apartment will be near the start of Line 1 which will supposedly be finished in 2011.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Shopping at Wuxi Carrefour on a Thursday Night. Uniform flap continued.

Never again, I say.  Never again, will I go to Carrefour in the evening or on the weekend.  It is just too bleeping crowded.  You would think it was Christmas last night or something but in fact it was just an ordinary evening in Wuxi.  The lineups at the checkout went  into the shopping aisles.  It was impossible to turn around.  Last night, I got to the end of the dairy aisle and found myself with a difficult choice.  I could either stay in the checkout lineup I had inadvertently joined or try and turn around and go back down  the crowded aisle  in order to get to the fruit and bread sections.   I choose the former option and got the hell out.


I think everyone will eventually fall in place, at least in my department, on the dress code.  Most of the trainers are starting to wear ties.  The trainer, raised on hip-hop, however does not want to.


The wife is going to the New apartment today with Tony and her father.  She had an emotional breakdown yesterday and I was treated to the sight of her wailing and Tony wailing, in absolute fear.  I was in part responsible for this because I got mad at her when she got mad at me for some gaffe I did.  Although truly what I did sparked some resentments she had built up toward me.  She is having a hard time looking after both Tony and the New apartment.  I will have to do more but it is hard to take Tony away from her because it is so natural in some situations that she take him.    Blogging I won't give up because it keeps me sane.  My wife does have to give me slack on a few things because I am isolated having a family in a foreign setting.  I will have to endure her outbursts.  Women are emotional - there is no way around it.  I am lazy in my own way - there is no way around that either.


For lunch today, I had a tuna sandwich, which I could buy at a nearby bakery for 7 rmb, and a package of microwave popcorn.  I haven't been eating well  since I got married.  But that is because I had surrendered the kitchen to my wife when we got married and I can't figure out her system of doing things.  Like Chinese writing, many of her ways are so foreign to me that it would take years of concentrated study to learn them. 

Mighty Big of Tony.

My son Tony is in a stroller as a rare reader, who may have looked at some of my videos, knows.  Tony has taken to the stroller as a fish takes to water.  It allows him the freedom to explore.  Lately, he has been trying to get into the bathroom and the kitchen to see what the adults are up to.  This morning, he watched me in the bathroom, blocking the entrance as he did so.  However, when I exited the bathroom, he actually backed up to let me out.  A lovely sign of baby development if you ask me.

Tony in Wuxi

I took these videos as the Toner and I went for a walk around the center of Wuxi town.

Tony at Chongan Market:


Tony on Renmin Road:




This mural can be seen in the lobby of the Wuxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's doing in my Wuxi, China apartment 3

Luis goes to the Wuxi Zoo

Fellow trainer Luis from Canada went to the Wuxi Zoo and took this video.

The agony of the blank screen.

What to write about today?  as I look at the blank screen of  my blog writing program.  I have so far come up with a title for a blog entry but little else....

Tony is in his stroller.  He was up at six this morning.  He was in a squirmy and complaining mood.  So what else can we do but put him in his stroller?

The tie/uniform flap continues at the school.  The foreigners in the IELTS department insist that they won't wear ties but they have no problem with a jacket.  The Chinese management insists that if they wear a jacket, they must also wear a tie.  One of these trainers so hates ties that he says he didn't wear one to his wedding.  He even said he would quit over the issue (although he has threatened to quit over other issues before). 

In the other department, the congenital slobs, the jeans and sneakers crowd, are talking human rights issues and so being babies.  The Chinese management has  least given us a choice of ties to wear and we don't have to wear jackets.  Two of us started wearing the ties yesterday.  The slobs did not.  It is always the worse offenders against the common sense idea of looking presentable who get the angriest about dress codes.  Some of them instead of dressing better are dressing worse. 

Things will just have to play themselves out over the next week.  I just hope to see, over the long run, that the trainers no longer wear jeans and t-shirts and that the uniform idea is dropped.   I see the Chinese staff is already rebelling against the ties.  None of them liked the uniform policy.  Some are actually wearing a jacket with no tie.  The uniform policy will either have to be rigidly enforced which will mean people will quit or it will slowly cease to be followed. 

Thursday is a day off for this week.  I go back to work on Friday and then have another day off on Saturday.  I will look after Tony today and hopefully have an opportunity to get some grocery shopping done.  I will listen to Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt on the MP3s I have downloaded, I hope.  Maybe, I will see the King of Wuxi in the evening.

I taught the students the word "mob".  One of them then said "Oh! like in Tibet!".

No agony today really.  Life is what it is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Bridge over the River Kwai.

The School library has a copy of the novel, for which that famous movie is based, The Bridge over the River Kwai.  I wonder if the novel has anything to tell me about my predicament or position at the school.  I am the head foreign trainer.

As the head foreign trainer, I am almost in an impossible position.  I have to try to satisfy both the Chinese management and the Foreign staff. 

I really should be worried about improving our students' English, but the Chinese management makes decisions that bewilder us foreigners.  For example, the decision to make someone's wife a Vice President at our school.  I can't defend that sort of thing but being here in China I have to accept it and hope it does not make work intolerable.  Also, Chinese management asks us to do things on very short notice.  As the foreign staff correctly say good teaching involves planning which is hard to do in the short notice time they give to us.  In these situations I can only hope the foreign trainers can work together the best they can to make the most of an bad situation.  The foreigners do have to accept that it will be hard for us to change the Chinese habits on this.  But, I always feel I am the teller of bad news.  When the Chinese management tells me something they want us to do, I hesitate to pass on the information because of the scoffing I hear from the foreign staff.

So I sometimes feel like a stooge for a despotic or corrupt Chinese management . 

But then the foreigners I work with aren't so perfect either.  Currently, we are having a flap about dress codes for the foreigners at the school.  The Chinese management wants us to wear ties.  Some foreigners do not want to.  Some of the foreign trainers brought this on themselves by insisting on wearing the most casual of clothes.  I choose not to renew one teacher's contract because his shabby appearance was offensive to me.  Other trainers I was glad to see leave our school because they were essentially tourists in China, not the least interested in teaching.  And of course many foreigners who come to China to teach English are alcoholics, druggies, playboys or loser-misfits.

I feel sometimes like I am looking after over-grown undisciplined children

In the story ,The Bridge over the River Kwai, Colonel Nicholson deals with a despotic Asian by insisting on discipline and doing things according to regulations.  The Colonel's stand on doing correct procedures causes consternation for both his Asian captors and the foreign prisoners for whom he is responsible.  He is in a very lonely position.  And of course, in the story, he is ultimately undone by the bigger need to defeat the Japanese as the bridge he built is destroyed.  Was he a stooge or wasn't he?

Thankfully, I am not at war with the Chinese and my ultimate objective is to have our students' English improve.  There is something maybe to be said for the Colonel Nicholson approach in my situation.  With the Chinese, I have to insist on certain things.  I also have to try and work out some compromises sometimes.  But I have to tread carefully.  I also have to insist that the teachers do their job as best they can and suck it up when necessary.  That is, I must insist that the teachers do have some discipline and professionalism in the face of our crazy management. 

Don't start till one.

I don't start work till one o'clock this afternoon, but I am up at 630 AM.  Tony was up early well and didn't seem interested in snoozing.  I dressed him, while listening to the Wife's protestations, that he was cold (which he wasn't).  I put him in his stroller and the wife complained that I wasn't holding him.

The wife: she be back.

Documentary about the Kaulins Family?

Jenny, Tony and I may be the subject of a documentary for Wuxi Television.  Wuxi TV wants to do a show about a mixed nationality couple with a child.  Someone told them about us and our beautiful baby.  Jenny is okay with the idea but she wants the show to be filmed at our new apartment. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

Car cuts off Bicycle.

There are a lot of cars in Wuxi and a lot of bicycles.  There are so many cars that it is hard to find parking spots for them.   The city has set up bicycle lanes on the right-hand sides of roads in hopes of separating cars and bicycles. 

The arrangement generally works but of course the Chinese will cheat.  I have often seen scooters being ridden on sidewalks or going the wrong way in the car lanes.  And Cars will drive on Sidewalks.

To have a car is to be King in China.  Drivers seem to have no consideration for pedestrians or cyclists.  I have often seen cars blaring their horns at pedestrians who happen to be in their way on a sidewalk.  I will make a rude gesture when a car honks at me from behind when on the sidewalk.  Also, cars will often not stop or slow down when making right hand turns.

This morning, I saw a car make a right turn across the bicycle lane and cut off a bicycle.  The cyclist had to made a quick evasive right turn because the driver just didn't look.  The cyclist then had to dismount from her bicycle or else tumble down.  In Canada, the cyclist would have reacted angrily.  In China, the woman took it matter-of-factly.  There was consternation of her face but no movement indicating anger at the driver.

A clash of civilizations?

I took this photo as I was having coffee at the McDonald's near my school. There is always something to take photos of in China. I have been here three years and the opportunities to take photos never stop. The old lady above may well have been from the countryside and had never seen Ronald McDonald before.

I often have seen younger people take photos of themselves sitting next to Ronald.
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A student talks about Tibet.

Apparently, one of the students asked a foreign trainer if they had heard any news about Tibet.  The trainer, playing dumb, said no and asked what the student had heard.  The student gave the trainer the government line.

The Olympics

I had conversation class for which the topic was the Olympics.  You would think it was an easy class to do because with the Olympics coming to China this year it is what all the Chinese are talking about.  Well, it is not so.  Most of the students didn't seem at all interested in the event.  If they had a chance, they might watch them on TV, but that's about it. 

I didn't broach Tibet. 

Wuxi China Bengal Dog

This video has now been viewed over 10,000 times - my second video to have ever reached this milestone.

I can again upload to Youtube.

We got to wear Ties.

The president of the mother corporation that the school is a part of has made his wife a vice-president at our school.  She is responsible for customer service and lord knows what else.  She has been making the receptionists work on their posture.  The Study Assistants have to wear uniforms.  And now we have to wear ties.  It was either that, or wear ties and a suit.  The school will provide us the ugliest tie possible in hopes of making us look more professional.  This V.P. has also started a customer service program where the students can vote for the staff members they think have provided the best service.  This means they can vote for the teacher they like the most. 

The foreign trainers don't care much for any of these ideas.  A popularity contest for teachers to me and the others seems unproductive.  Students won't like to vote for the teacher who is strict and wants them to work and actually learn something.   One trainer has said he will quit if he is forced to wear a tie.  He said he never even wore one at his wedding.

Stay tuned to see what happens....

The Chinese have changed their holiday system.

I just learned about it, but the Chinese have changed their national holiday system starting in 2008.  Previously, there were three week-long holidays:  Chinese New Year, May Day and the National Day starting on October 1.  Now, they will have shorter holidays throughout the year.  So for the remainder of this year, the holidays will be April 4 for Tomb Sweeping Day, May 1, June 8 for the Dragon Boat Festival, September 14 for the Mid-Autumn Festival and October 1-3 for National Day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Latvia and Tibet.

I can't actually access this site in China without a proxy.  On my computer at home, it is difficult to find a proxy that works.  I can post to this site because of a program Windows Live Writer allows me to.  When people make comments on my blog, I get an email with the comment.  A rare reader made this comment which deserves a response:

I am a Latvian by heritage, but born and raised in America (California, to be exact, as it apparently makes a difference to some). I came across your blog while looking up Latvia's interest in Tibet. Interestingly, I am finding some discrepancy of Latvia's official stance.

To quote the Latvian Embassy website - "Latvia is of the view that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China, and is interested in a constructive dialogue with China on humanitarian issues, including the preservation of the cultural, ethnic, and religious identity of Tibet."

What bothers me is the first part that says Latvia sees Tibet as part of China. I find that an interesting view considering how hard Latvia wanted others to view them as independent during their time under Soviet rule. I could go further by bringing up Latvia's involvement "the war that should not be" in Iraq, but that's a different story.

I am curious whether Latvia, governmentally, or Latvian people respect and wish Tibet to be a sovereign nation, as Latvia itself now is.

I am troubled by Latvia's views although I was suprised to learn that Latvia is simply echoing the views of the Dalai Lama himself.  From a recent column by David Warren on Tibet:

On the question of sovereign independence for Tibet, it is worth noting that he does not seek it. He has consistently sought, instead, some practical arrangement in which the Chinese State will recognize Tibet’s ancient autonomy, and leave the Tibetan peoples to get on with their own lives, according to their own lights. He has little hope in the efficacy of big power arrangements to achieve real political goods, but focuses the struggle on actual human freedom.

So thanks to the Dalai Lama, the Latvian government can weasel its way out of the controversy.  But since the Dalai Lama does seem to want to meet the Chicoms halfway, why is it that the Chicoms treat him like a pariah?  And why doesn't the world insist on the Chicoms letting the Dalai Lama come back to Tibet?

The sad truth is that Latvia is compromising with realpolitick.  Much as the world wanted Latvia to be free in the days of the evil Soviet Union, there wasn't much it could or would do other that say or wish it wasn't so.  America or Europe, for the most part, didn't have the gumption to try to directly liberate the Baltic States and Poland, among other countries from the Soviet Empire.  Today, no one will raise a finger to help the Tibetans.

Bush's war in Iraq demonstrates what happens if someone does try to do something about tyranny.  Bush's war to rid Iraq of a dictator and to give it democracy and freedom was one of the most moral wars in history.  It was why Latvia and Poland joined the coalition of the willing, or at least how I saw it.  But look at all the grief that Bush has gotten for having his moral war.  He is portrayed in some corners as worse than Hitler.  I could imagine Latvians in the old days praying for someone, anyone to save them from the evil Soviets.  The Americans did eventually help them and of course they were called evil in some quarters for doing so (Reagan the war-monger).

So what is a small country like Latvia to do?  The tendency of the world is to be pacifist.  To advocate strong action on anything is to invite approbation.  Latvia muddles through as the world tries to be pacifist and moral at the same time.  And so the Chinese can get away with what they are doing in Tibet.

Just another day. Podcasts/Talk Radio

My next day off will be Saturday which means I am going to be working about eight days in a row.  Who is your boss?  you ask.  Me.

I am happy it is just another day in the apartment.  The wife is here and we are trying to do our thing.  I have ironed my clothes, had two cups of tea, read the essential blogs and am now making this entry.  She is looking after Tony.  I am doing laundry.  I couldn't be happier.  I really appreciate my wife after her three week absence.

On the weekend, I download podcasts to listen to on my phone.  Having radio to listen to, even if it is a week after the fact keeps me sane.  Talk radio was an obsession of mine when I was in Canada.  When I was living near Vancouver, B.C., I always had a field day because I could get all sorts of talk radio from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, including Rush Limbaugh.  I first encountered Rush on his short-lived TV show which I could watch on cable TV in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I could hear replays of his show late at night when I could receive American radio signals.  But it was not until I was in British Columbia, that I could listen to Rush live.

Now in Wuxi, I can listen to Hugh Hewitt, John Derbyshire, Shire Network News and Denis Prager on my mobile phone.  I can get programs trashing China for what they are doing in Tibet.  I even play them in public because I know the Chinese won't understand and because the Chinese air is so fouled with pollution that a breeze of freedom is necessary and refreshing.

Blogspot Exclusive: New Wuxi Tony Updates.

Back on the Tube, I have uploaded a slew of videos including the two below, featuring stroller boy, which are exclusive to my blogspot blog.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chinese students' take on U.S. - Sino Relations.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a conversation class about U.S.-Sino relations.  I, of course, asked the students what they thought and felt about America.  The students feelings ranged form love-hate to hate for America.  The students admired America's economic and business power, and its democracy.  They expressed the typical anti-American foreign policy view as a reason for their hatred.  On Taiwan, they said America should get out of China's internal affairs.  America went to Iraq for Oil.  They said they wanted democracy. But when I asked them what they heard about America's current presidential election, they said the news was that if was very expensive to run in it.

I could tell they had been fed a pile from their government.  Any contrary views I offered the students were probably not understood anyway, and I doubt if the students could have offered an argument if they did.

John Derbyshire.

John Derbyshire, sinologist extraordinary, on Obama's pastor and the troubles in Tibet.

My wife is back!

But on the good side of things, my wife is back.  I am so happy to see to her, I don't miss the criticism.  In fact, I can say that I missed it.

Justifiable Homicide.

I should have saved the fury I unleased yesterday on that McDonalds queue-jumper for the band downstairs that started playing outside at six AM this morning.   They must be playing for a funeral.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Greek Mythology

One of the worse possible topics for a conversation class in China is Greek Mythology.  The student don't know it.  Heck, they don't even know their own traditional mythology.

But they do know their Chicom mythology:  Tibet and Taiwan, they say, has always been a part of China.  That is what I suggested a Trainer try talking about instead.  But he won't, of course.

Lack of sleep?

I am feeling grouchy these days.  Being in China during the Tibet crisis, I feel angry.  I am angry at myself for being in a situation where I can't just up and leave.  It may well be that I am not sleeping well these days because I am looking after Tony at night and so have a hard time keeping my temper in check.  It may well be that I am stuck with too many people.  That is, the ignorance and the rudeness and the laziness and the weakness of all the people I have to deal with whether they be Chinese or foreigners is more than a once well-meaning guy, like yours truly, can deal with.

This morning at McDonalds, I had a Chinese fellow bud in line in front of me.  I called him every name in the book I could think of.  He understood enough to know I was mad at him and he said sorry.  But his apology was not accepted.  I should have smacked him in the head.  The guy clearly had no concept of "there are people here before me" when he threw his money and coupons at the counter person.

This sort of occurrence is common in Wuxi.  Most of the time, I fume on the inside when it happens but when I have had lack of sleep I can't control my temper like this morning.

When I arrived at work after the McDonald's incident, I saw one of our trainers, who is leaving soon, at the school early to meet a driver going to the airport.  It was only this Thursday that the Trainer called in sick for work.  Other trainers had told me that this trainer had told everyone on Wednesday about being sick and not being able to make it the next day.   Trainers calling in sick is a headache for me.  The melodrama, I have seen people employ when they tell me they are sick, sickens me.  This trainer was melodramatic to the max.  I really didn't want to talk to her.

But being forced to, I fumed about the man at McDonalds in the foulest language I could employ.  This trainer is gone soon anyway.

Russia and Tibet and Latvia and China.

I have been thinking  Tibet's current situation is somehow analogous to the country of my ancestors, Latvia.  Latvia was annexed by the Russian Empire after WWII; as Tibet was annexed by the Mao Dynasty in 1951.  I remember reading articles by the Russians, written before 1989, claiming that the Latvians wanted them to come into Latvia.  Now, I am reading the Chinese say essentially the same thing about their role in Tibet.

It doesn't surprise me to see that Russia is being said to support China's legitimate actions to handle the violence in Lhasa in recent daysThe Russians in the past probably talked of legitimate actions needed to handle unrest in Riga.

Thankfully, Latvia is an independent country but the Russians have always wanted to conquer it again.

The wife returns today.

The wife leaves the hospital today and will be back with Tony and me.  I can hardly wait to see her tonight when I get off work.

Outside, it is raining, a dull and dismal day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's doing in my apartment.


The two women you see in the video are Jenny's mother and biological mother.  The lady who I call Mother in the video is Jenny's adopted mother.  The other lady is in fact Jenny's biological mother.

A Wuxi backstreet.

What I love about China is walking back streets. They are long, narrow and give one the feeling of being in a neighborhood. The spread out ways of the places I have lived in North America never give you that feeling. These narrow back lanes are teeming with life. Too bad, they can't be cleaner. The life you see is mixed with refuse.

Go to the previous entry to see the video I made in this lane.
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A Walk in Wuxi, China 1.

This is the first of a new series of videos I am making.  Go to next entry to learn more details.


Yours Truly.

Here is how life has me looking these days. This photo of yours truly was taken on March 18, 2008 at BFW company in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi, China. I was there to make a speech. Like a politician, I have a stump speech for these affairs now and I have the benefit of most people not understanding anything I say. Still, I avoid the urge to scream "Free Tibet!" at them.
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Are you happy with Earth's Gravity?

Space is the topic for a conversation class I occasionally have to teach.  Chinese students know little about the topic so it is a hard class in which to get conversation going.  In the three years I have done it, I have tried all sorts of things with little success. 

So I was not excited to see that I was to teach the class yesterday.  What to do?  What to do? I asked myself to the tune of the Foggy Day in London Town song.  Two new questions came to mind which I thought I would try out on the students:  What things do you have to think about when you go to a new planet? and Are you happy with the Earth's gravity?

Armed with these two questions, I did the class.  I had a full group of eight to talk with.  The class had better moments that most times I have talked with them about Space, but there were still too many times when a question I asked was over their heads.  A complicating factor was the fact that the class was half-male, half-female and the men were dominating the conversation.

But when I asked the two questions I got very good responses from all the students.  The students gave many interesting responses to the gravity question.  I asked them if they thought the Earth's gravity** should be more or less than it is.  Some of the females liked the idea of having less weight.  Some students liked the idea of being able to float in lower gravity.  One student even said that people live longer in lower gravity citing an example of 100 year old people living near the North pole (his  assumption being that the force of gravity was lower the furth north you went).  There were also claims that you could be taller in lower gravity.  However, a couple of students put a damper on the enthusiasm for lower gravity by saying that we would have a harder time growing things in low gravity because the soil would float away.  The exchange of views was amazing. 

Now if I can think of eight more questions like those and the Space class will never be a problem again.  The key is to get the students to talk about what they know.


**When I first used the word "gravity", the students did not know what it was.  I mentioned the story of Newton discovering it by having an apple fall on his head and the students instantly understood.

Saturday, Saturday...

The wife may be out of the hospital and back with us on Saturday.  This is all provided her blood test results are good.  I believe they will be because she is getting much better.  She hasn't coughed up any blood for the longest time.

When the wife does come back she will be on light duties.  She will also wear a mask around Tony for a while.  I will still have to look after Tony in the night.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Students talking about the news.

At School, the students will never talk about the news unless you ask them and even then it is like trying to get blood from stone.  They either don't care and or feel scared to say anthing.  In this, the week, that Tibet is burning, the only student to say anything about world affairs said something disparaging about the Americans in Iraq. 

I note this when I think of those who think Obama will bring some sort of fresh air to American foreign policy.  To make the Chinese happy he is going to have to continue to say he didn't support the war in Iraq and not say anything mean to them about Tibet.  The misinformed student I mentioned above would probably support an Obama presidency. 

And it is supposively the Americans' fault that many don't like them?  How about realizing that America does much more that is right and proper than all other countries in the world?

Obama is going to pander to dictatorships or so it seems the implications of his foreign policy predict.  Hopefully, he realizes he will have to do some realpolitck and not always play Mister Nice Guy.

No Canada for another year.

With my wife's health troubles, raising Tony and decorating the new apartment, I am afraid we will have to postpone our trip to Canada for one year.  So instead of May 2008, we will hopefully be going to Canada in May 2009.  I don't know how long I can go without being able to hear open political discussion, browse in a good bookstore or eat food I like.

It has the potential to be a crappy day.

It is my day off so you would think I have no reason to complain, but alas I do and it is enough to make me want to go to work.  To begin with, we have a meeting with a new V.P. at school who has all these ideas to make our lives more miserable.  She is going to try to make us foreigners wear uniforms which won't go over well at all.  I have a trainer call me late last night and early this morning ( at 700 AM)to tell me she is sick so I have to find someone to replace her or cancel the classes.  Now, I have just heard that the water heater in the apartment won't be repaired till 24th of March.

I am going to visit my wife this afternoon after the meeting and nothing is going to stop me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shouting matches.

Walking through the streets of Wuxi like I do, and observing everything (I hope), I do see  a lot of shouting matches.  That is,  Chinese people screaming at each other. 

I have to admit that I have been in a few shouting matches of my own.  I once screamed so much at my mother-in-law, I made her cry.  I was waving my fist in the face of a neighbor one time calling her every ill-name for a women I could.  And I have had some screaming matches with foreigners.

As well, when I walk around I feel tension.  People are always using their horns to get people out of their way.  I can't resist the urge, still after three years, to punch every Chinese person who drives a car in the face and then slap them behind the head for their selfishness.  I have seen drivers here accelerate under the assumption that if they honk their horn people will get out of their way.  When a Chinese person blatantly stares at me with a Look at the Laowei! expression on their face,  I like to stare back at them coldly.

The tension of living in  a facist society (which is what China has become for which Tibet it proof) pervades everything here.  I used to think people could maybe live here blissfully unaware of thier government as they just got on with working and raising a family, but that was naive on my part.  There is so much that goes on that is not right but for which nothing can be done because of fear.  The fear turns into a tension which results in those often public displays of anger.

Student's English Names.

I will get away from the serious topic of Tibet, to talk about the English names that some students have chosen for themselves.  Recently, for the first time, I have had students who have given themselves names like Polo, Wood, Rainy and Manganese. 

It was funny to have this Rainy in class last night as it was raining outside: 

What is your name? 


I know it is but what's your name?


The students got the joke.

So that is what we are doing wrong?

I am not accustomed to teaching classes of 40 or 50 students but every once in a while I have the opportunity.  I have done so with a little success.  My method  with these large groups is to talk to individual students throughout the  class.  Talking to a Chinese primary school teacher today (we didn't talk about Tibet), I was told that they as teachers would never do that.  They talk to the class as a whole and never ask an individual student a question;  they expect the students to answer in unison while looking for the ones who don't join in.  The students, they tell me, will not pay attention if only one student is asked to speak. 

It makes for a long and dull class to teach like that.  But my method among the young primary school students sees discipline problems.

Monday, March 17, 2008


To hear the news of what is happening in Tibet is depressing.  And it is depressing to be here in China because it is not being talked about.  Foreigners are all talking about the events (some can get CNN on satellite), of course,  but they fear broaching the subject with the Chinese.  No Chinese person has brought the subject up.

The Chinese media is talking about it and they are putting their spin on it saying members of a Dalai Lama Clique are attacking innocent Chinese in Lhasa.

I feel I am between a rock and a hard place.  If I wasn't married to a Chinese woman, I think I would leave here.  As it is, I have a feeling of dread because I can't.  As well, the Olympics are not going to be a success for China.  And this failure could turn into a resentment of foreigners, not an unusual thing if you have read anything about the history of China.  It is always below the surface ready to boil over.

We are doing these Olympic English events at the school and I hate doing them more than ever.

Tony wears Pampers!

In answer to the comment made in my Saint Patrick's Day entry, I tell you about how the Chinese take care of baby's plumbing.  China is not for the weak-stomached or squeamish as you soon will learn.   I have issues with my Chinese relatives on this account.

Two common sights that sickens Westerners on their arrival in China are to see babies wearing split-ass pants with no diapers and to see parents letting their children pee or shit on the street.  In the latter instance, you will see parents holding their babies between their legs and with the feet and arms in the air, and the ass toward the ground.  Most Chinese can't afford or have never heard of disposable diapers.  And to avoid the work involved in using cloth diapers, they don't bother using them all.

Pampers and the like are available in China and Tony does wear them.  When the Chinese actually use disposable diapers, they do see the advantage of them.

However, some of my in-laws don't.  I was sickened by the sight of my wife's cousin's two-year old girl wearing split-ass pants.  We were at a restaurant one time and I caught the sight of the little girl's bare ass as I was eating.  I could have cried.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Here is my wife wearing green on Saint Patrick's Day 2006. You can see why I married her and why I can say I have had the luck of the Irish in this life of mine.

Below is another bit of luck wearing green.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maddening China

Three things that have driven me crazy:

The landlord sent in a relative to try to fix the water heater that is leaking.   It was beyond his level of expertise so now the landlord hopes to call someone from the factory to look at it.  So another day with  no hot water.

I wanted some students to tell me what they thought about Sichuan food.  Problem was I couldn't get them to understand what Sichuan was.  I was mispronouncing it so I wrote the word on the board.  That didn't help so I tried to tell them how Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Sichuan were provinces of China.  This trying to explain by analogy didn't work either.  I finally took them to a map of China posted near the trainer office.  I showed them where Sichuan was in China.  Even then, they didn't understand until they thought about the pronunciation and went Oh! Sichuan!  It would have been unprofessional to say what didn't you understand?  It seems they were stuck on the word and its' pronunciation, and not listening to any of my explanations. 

I went to the bank this morning to deposit some money.  I stood in line and just as I was second in line, an older woman walked into the bank oblivious to the people waiting and talked to the teller I had been waiting to deal with.  People barging into line is a  common occurrence in China, and the older Chinese are the main culprits.  This morning, the clerk had to explain to the lady that I had been waiting and that it was my turn to be served, not hers. 

No Water.

Saturday morning, the water heater in the apartment started to leak.  That is China for you.  Nothing is made to last.  And so, I have not had a hot shower in two days. 

I thought the repairman was supposed to come yesterday but, of course this being China, he didn't.  This morning I was told.  I was up early morning with the expectation that I wouldn't be taking a shower and prepared to wash myself with a basin.  I brought out the kettle and boiled some water.  I was able to wash my hair in the basin.  But just after I finished rinsing my hair, I turned on the tap and nothing happened.  Now, there is not only no hot water but no water at all.

So, it has been a morning of negative progress.  We are now waiting for a water company rep and a water heater repairman to come.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tibetan Exam Question.

I have been told that at schools in China, there is a political examination that you must write and pass so you  can graduate.  One of these questions is about Tibet:  Why is Tibet part of China?  If the question is not answered correctly, I was told, then you fail the exam and don't get your qualification.

Jenny's old neighbors.

I mentioned, a few days ago, that Jenny had a woman, at a hospital bed beside her, tell her I was too old and that there was a resulting tiff that forced Jenny to move to another hospital room.  It turned out that the woman in that nearby bed, but not the person who offered the judgement and is a relative, nearly died from her ailment. 

It is a strange feeling to be angry at someone and yet feel sorry for them.  

Jenny's Real Mother.

Jenny's real mother is in town to look after Tony.  "Jenny's real mother?" you say?  Yes.  The mother-in-law I have been talking about adopted Jenny because Jenny's real mother had three girls and really wanted a boy.  So, Jenny's real mother gave two of her girls away.

Jenny's real mother was at our wedding.  She stood in the background as it were.. 

Yesterday was the first time, She had laid eyes on her biological grandson.  When I left the house today, she was babysitting Tony. 

This a rather strange situation for this Westerner.  I imagine that She must have felt some emotions as she saw Tony for the first time.  But the Chinese feel different about these things.  I have been told that the Chinese will give up a girl of their own blood to adopt a son in order to keep the family name.

Jenny admits she feels some anger at this woman, but she tolerates her presence.  And as they say: time heals.

Yesterday was also the first time that one of Jenny's biological aunts saw Tony in person.  One of Jenny's sisters came to Wuxi yesterday.

No Youtube in China.

I can't get to Youtube this morning.  But it only stands to reason with the events in Tibet that the Chicoms would block Youtube for fear of video of what is happening there being uploaded for all the world to see.  Despicable.

In a normal country, there should be no need to do such things.

Mother and Child Reunion.

Jenny saw Tony today.  He was taken to the hospital to see her, behind a mask of course.  Jenny told me that Tony has not forgotten her.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wuxi Street Scenes

I took these photos in the downtown of Wuxi. If you look closely at the second photo you will see chickens. Chickens in the downtown of Wuxi. In the third photo, you will see a car trying to make a left turn into very busy traffic. In China, the drivers will go straight ron their path regardless of the flow of traffic. In a similar situation I would have made a right turn and gone around the block, but not in China. One more detail I should point out: the roads are always in a state of being torn apart and redone as you can see in the two of the photos.

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Old News

I mentioned the rioting in Tibet to the other trainers when I got to school this morning.   I got one reaction:  It was old news for it happened two days ago. 

My God, what the Internet has done to attention spans.

Getting Tony to fall asleep on his own.

Part of the reason my wife is in the hospital is that she tired herself out.  She was looking after Tony and the decorating of our new apartment.  She got into the bad habit of letting Tony fall asleep in her arms.  I am trying to break that habit and have had some success.

Last night, I got Tony to fall asleep at 1000 PM.  He woke up this morning at 730 AM.  I only had to feed him at 300 AM.  To accomplish this goal, I have to go to sleep when Tony does which means no more watching t.v. or playing on the computer when I get home.  Around 900 PM, it is lights out in the bedroom.  I play with Tony in the dark, I give him a bottle and then I wait him out.  Last night, he babbled for an hour before I fed him.  He then just about fell asleep.  He staged a counter-offensive against sleep for about 10 minutes before he finally conked out.  I did nothing but listen to him as I lay beside him.

Hopefully, the wife will no more being holding him at midnight trying to get him to fall asleep.

Video taken on my trip to Changzhou.

Changzhou is about 1 hour by car from Wuxi.  Yesterday, I went to a company called Fellowes which manufactures paper shredders to do an English Corner.  Here is a video I took along the way:



No one talks about Tibet here.  At least not with the Chinese.  But it is good to know that the Chinese can't stop the information about what is happening there from coming to me.

Age Difference

My wife is about 15 years my junior.  Having had Tony I haven't had much time to think about it.  I have only been thinking about be a good father to him as well as the a good wife to her.  Every once in a while it does generate some comment.  I have seen comments about my having an Asian trophy wife on my Youtube videos.  All I can say is that having an Asian wife is a trophy compared to be married to a Western women (not that I have been married to a Western woman but my wife is on the ball about things as far as raising a family.  My wife is not into self-actualization).  No feminist nostrum thinking.

Anyway, my wife had someone in her hospital room tell her flat-out that I was an old man.  They had an argument and so my wife has moved to another room in the hospital.  Something's you just have to walk away from.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


For the School, I am going to Changzhou to conduct a Speakers' Corner.  Stories and Photos to follow.

Check out these three videos.

More videos of the Toner on Youtube.

Here he laughs.


Here he wakes up.


Here he charges after me.

It all depends on Tony's skin.

My wife could be out of the hospital in three days provided Tony gets his shot.  But Tony can't get his shot till his skin clears up.  He has a rash all over his body which is preventing him from getting the shot.  Till he gets the shot, he can't be anywhere near his mother.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The King of Wuxi enters U.S. presidential race.

Just when one thought the U.S. presidential race couldn't have more twists and turns, another unpredicted variable further clouded that election picture as a fourth viable contender, the King of Wuxi, announced his candidacy for 2008. 

Speaking at the Dongtien District Municipal Workers and Retirees Stadium in Wuxi which was packed with 250,000 people for some other event, the King cited the weakness of the three remaining candidates as his reason for entering the hotly contested 2008 U.S. Presidential Race:

I hear talk of change! said the King but what specific change are they talking about?  Change you can see is change you believe in.  And plus Change seems to be a weasel word for Revolution which I can tell you from my days as a fixer in the Manitoba Liberal Party is a non-starter for responsible voters.  Any politician who promises unspecific change is irresponsible.  That is why I promise change that you really can believe in.  I promise you that if you elect me President of the U.S.A. from 2009 to 2013, I will change my underwear everyday; twice on hot days.  And you won't have to worry about this linen being dirty.  My spouse, who has not had sex with Monica Lewinsky, will ensure my underwear is clean.  She will make a great first lady.  And did you know that my spouse is a trained make-up artist?  Well, you won't see me trying to put on my resume as a reason to be President of the USA or a make-up artist.  No Siree!!

Furthermore, I am not too old to be the president of the U.S.A. like some other guy who spent 5 years in the Hanoi Hotel.  I lived in Winnipeg, aka Winterpeg for 37 years!  What do you think of that?  And doing all the things I have in my life, I am the right combination of youth and experience.

And you say I am not a minority or a woman?   I am in fact Minoritus Maximus; I am a gimpy legged Scotchman.  Furthermore, if you look on the Internet you can see photos of me in women's lingerie.  Try finding photos of the other candidates so clad, even the ones who are qualified.

So remember, a vote for me is a vote for everything.

Many observers think the King's candidacy will completely upturn the race.  Said Flanders Banders Whoopem, an US election expect from the University of Denmark Copenhagen, The King's appeal to underwear-changers transcends so many previous dividing points among the U.S. electorate.  Think of it, Women, Men, Latinos, Blacks, Jews, Wasps, Libertarians, Socialists and Methodists, to list a few all change their underwear.  The only people who won't be impressed by the King's underwear changing are Eccentric Left-Wing professors whose students are usually too drunk to find a polling booth and who were discredited anyway by the 1972 trouncing of George McGovern.  Furthermore, Mitt Romney supporters who were probably going to sit out the election will flock in droves to the King's candidacy.

Definition of Hate.

One of my better students gave me this when I was soliciting definitions of "Hate" during an English Corner:  Hate is an emotion or feeling where you care enough to not like something.

Wuxi Jenny at 4.5 months pregnancy. 10,000 views.

This video has been seen over 10,000 times. It was taken nearly a year ago at a time when there wasn't a Tony. It is so hard to imagine that now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Chinese concept of Face.

I can't get my head around the Chinese concept of Face.  The Chinese not wanting to lose Face seems counter-productive to me.  For instance, the wife does not want me to mention her illness to anyone because she would lose face.  She even wants me not to say anything to my best friends about it.  This is of course impossible.  It is stressful time for me and to not talk to someone about it would be very hard.  (It is hard enough as it is to not be able to communicate directly with doctors)

This concept has ruined my day today.  I was going to visit my wife at the hospital.  But over the phone, I mentioned the fact that there is a doctor, who can speak English at the Number Two Hospital who was willing to help us.  The doctor sent me a message through Facebook after having read about the trouble we have been having on my blog.  I thought it would be good news to tell my wife but she became angry at the thought that someone knows about her illness.  That she didn't appreciate the fact that this person can help us and give us some needed guanxi angered me.  Now, she does not want me visiting her.

Monday, March 10, 2008

One week more?

I am crossing my fingers hoping that the wife can be out of the hospital in one week.  On day 10 of her stay (Friday), she will do a test.   If the results are good, she can bolt.

Tony has a skin problem that meant he couldn't get his TB shot.  I have seen him scratch himself like crazy.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Today is a China Day.

Expats in China define a China Day as a day in which being in China causes one much anxiety and frustration.  Today is one of those days for me.

To begin with, a simple task, you would think, of getting Tony to the hospital to get a TB shot turned into a big run-around. The mother-in-law was told to go to a certain hospital, supposedly the #2 People's Hospital, to get this shot for Tony. Tony had gotten a TB shot at birth but the PPD test negated the vaccine so he has to get another shot. So this morning, we walked to the #2 people's hospital in Wuxi to get the shot. At that hospital, they told my mother-in-law that they didn't give TB shots; she had to go to a nearby Children's Hospital. We walked there. The mother-in-law was then told there, after we could finally find someone to ask, that we had to go to a hospital across town. I got livid. The wife is now mad at me because I pointed out to her that this was the second time this week that her mother-in-law had gone to a hospital only to be told she was at the wrong place. The problem is that the mother-in-law is not using her mobile phone. If the doctors in question were able to talk to my wife, these run-arounds would not have happened. But pointing this out to my wife only makes her angry in an irrational way.

Now, the school has us going to teach two Middle School classes starting next Saturday. None of the trainers want to do them. I have to make someone do them. And the thing will be a disaster because it won't be well-planned and the students are sure to be wild.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I am off the hook.

I had my PPD Test spot looked at this morning and I can say I am okay.  That is, I don't have TB.  The PPD Test involves having a spot on your arm injected with some material.  Looking at the spot two or three days later, the doctor can determine if you have TB.  My spot was not red; it looked normal.

Tony and his grandmother will have their PPD spots looked at this afternoon.  I cross my fingers for them.

My wife is still coughing up a little blood.  I saw her today and showed her some video I had taken of Tony in his stroller (you too can see the video here.).  I have also recorded video and audio of Jenny for Tony to watch. 

Thank heavens for technology.

Friday, March 7, 2008

How My wife is doing.

The unfortunate but necessary separation of my wife and our son is hard on her.  For example, I took photos and videos of Tony using my Nikon digital camera and showed them to my wife, who cried as she looked at them.  I used my mobile phone to let my wife listen to the cries of Tony and that of course causes her to cry too.

The separation of  the wife and our son is hard for me, though not as much as it is for her.  I wish the wife could back me up in certain situations.  I hate having my wife's in-laws look after the child.  Coming from the Chinese countryside, they are ignorant of many things.  I don't like them cooking for me because I don't think they know the rules of sanitariness that most Westerners accept as common sense.  I am scared of them giving something to Tony.  My nightmare is that they take Tony to their countryside home which is as disgusting a place to live as I have ever seen in the world.

The pangs of separation and the doubts about the in-laws coalesced this afternoon as the Wife sobbingly told me that she could not contact her parents on the phone.  She had been talking to them when the phone suddenly cut off.  She then tried to phone them fifty times only to not have them answer, and so she panicked.  She phoned me and wanted me to go home from work and see what was up.  Thankfully, I knew someone in the apartment building who could visit the apartment directly and save me having to rush home for no reason.  But the in-laws should have had enough common sense to always be near a phone in case my wife phoned.  I chide them when I get home or at least my fist at them since we can't say much to each other.

WTU 52 and 53

Exclusive to my blogspot site, the latest Wuxi Tony Update Videos.


Back to Work.

I got to go back to work and all the joy it offers. Tony will be looked after though I have my druthers about my in-laws looking after him.

Of course, I go back to work on a wet, vile day.

On the bright side, I was able to come across a Carry-On Gang DVD: Carry on Doctor which I watched last night:

Doctor: We don't know what's wrong with you. Your case is a real enigma.

Patient: Oh no! I am not having one of those again.

That DVD has filled me with a little joie de vie.

A sad case.

My wife Jenny is staying in Wuxi's TB hospital in a room with two other women who are old.  The one on her left hand side is elderly with a face so wrinkled and wind-blown that I wasn't sure at first if she were a woman.  She has a week or so left to stay in the hospital, or so Jenny tells me.  The one on Jenny's right-hand side is a sad case.

This grandmother looks consumptive for she looks to have shrunk to nothing.  She, Jenny tells me,  has TB and diabetes.  She had been visited by her relatives, this morning, who told her that they couldn't afford to have her in the hospital anymore.   Because her family is poor, she has been to the hospital three times only to have not been able to afford a full recovery.  Now, her son and husband want her to go home and die.  Or so Jenny told me.

Jenny also tells me that this lady's relatives don't bring her any food.  Jenny has been sharing the food brought by us with her.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Voltaire in the Trash Heap

I took this photo as I was leaving my apartment complex earlier this week. Seeing the discarded bust of Voltaire raised a lot of questions for me. Was someone trying to steal the brain of Voltaire? Why would someone in Communist-now-Facist China have a bust of Voltaire? How would the Chinese government allow it? Could this photo serve as some sort of metaphor for Mao Dynasty China in the early 21st century? Are the Chinese literally trying to steal ideas out of Western Men's heads? Is this photo a representation of how the Chinese hope to become more powerful?
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Derbyshire on Chinese Healthcare.

John Derbyshire is one of my favorite presences on the Internet. He is an arch conservative and an expert on China. Every month on National Review Online, he publishes a diary. (He also hosts a weekly radio on NRO). In his February diary, he asked this question:

The big question about health care is, since it’s mostly technology based, why doesn’t it keep getting cheaper, like everything else to do with technology? A car, a computer, a TV, takes a smaller bite out of my income today than it did twenty years ago.

He asked an Economist this question and this is was the result:

He gave me a brisk economist’s answer: “Because someone else is paying for it.” Well, not in my case, obviously — I am, in point of fact, the “someone else” in that sentence — but for most Americans, this is true.

I will add this is also true in most places that have socialized medicine or something like it.

In China, they don't have socialized medicine. As I can tell you, it is pay as you go. The Chicoms, finally realizing that you need markets, have not tried to keep their healthcare communist.

And after talking about his meeting with that Economist, Derbyshire said this:

A friend tells me: “About a year ago my wife had an endoscopy done while we were in China on business. The cost was 150 yuan, less than twenty dollars. Recently in Arizona she had the same procedure. This time the bill came to $3,776.12. The only difference being in China they let her take the picture home with her.”*

Derbyshire goes on to speculate that more and more people will go to China for cheaper healthcare. You can see his whole diary passage about healthcare here.

*Today, I had a chest X-ray done and they let me take the picture home with me.


Tony, his grandmother and I had some tests done today to see if we have TB.  The grandmother and I had chest X-rays done.   Our X-rays looked fine and did not show anything, so hopefully now only my wife is sick.  All three of us did a PPD test which means having a needle stuck into you.  Tony screamed when he was given the needle but quickly got over it.  We won't get the results of the PPD test for three days.  But with the good X-ray, I think I am in the clear.  As for Tony, who has a little cough (that may have nothing to do with TB), we will have to cross our fingers till the PPD results come.

I have to say Tony has stood up pretty well in the two days he has been separated from his mother.  His reaction to the PPD needle was less than I expected.  Last night, he went to asleep at 930 PM and slept straight till 430 AM.  He got seven hours of sleep; so did I.

My wife is taking the separation from Tony very hard.  She feels guilty about having TB.  She has told me that she would never forgive herself if Tony had it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Tests have confirmed that Jenny has TB.  I was wrong to say Tony had been tested.  Tomorrow, he and I will go for tests.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Yesterday morning, my wife started coughing up blood.  I was at work at the time.  She went to the hospital and it wasn't till later that she was able to get a hold of me.  

I immediately left work and rushed to her bedside.  Once I was there, she told me she was scared and that there was the possibility that she may have pulmonary tuberculosis.  Tony has to be isolated from her.  Tests were done on him and he is alright, thankfully.  

But, for all three of us the separation that we will have to undergo in the next while will be hard.  It will also put a crink in the plans we have for the next few months as we are moving to the new apartment and will go to Canada.

Last night, was the first time I was alone with Tony without my wife to back me up.  Tony, thankfully, behaved better than I expected.  I had been talking to him in soothing tones about not having his mommy around for a few weeks.  Whether this contributed to his docile behavior I can't really say.  But it had been a tiring day for him as it was for me.

Why would my wife have pulmonary TB?   Researching on the Internet, I read it can be caused by living in crowded and unsanitary conditions.  In other words, She got it because she lives in China.

Jenny is in the Hospital.

My wife is in the hospital.  So I will be looking after Tony.   I may not be blogging for some time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Our Student/Customer service program.

The School has decided to inaugurate a customer service program for the students where they can vote for who they think is the best teacher, tutor, salesperson and receptionist.  The personnel getting the most votes  in these categories can win cash prizes or even a trip to a foreign destination. 

Is it a good idea?  When I first told the trainers about the program, the opinions ranged from hostile to indifference.  A popularity contest for teachers really seems untoward because you have to trust the students to choose the teacher who most helps them learn something.  The more experienced teachers suspect that most students like the teacher that will be easiest on them.  But, then you want to do something that get the employees to want to do a better job.  I have seen that the Chinese employees are excited by the possibility of the money and trip prizes.  Personally, I don't wish to win the prize and couldn't accept it if I did.

Is there much in my position that I can do about this idea?  It is my Chinese employers' company and they will do what they want to do.  I just let them get on with it and help  when I have to.  I really concern myself with teaching the students.  I suspect that there will be jigging of the vote results anyway.

Wuxi Tony Update #48

with a little tribute to WFB.

An Advertisement for Our School.

Here is the ad, featuring yours truly, for our school that you see on our school website.  The link I have provided gets you to the website's front page.  Click on the movie reel on the left hand side which will take you to the movie page.  When that page comes up, you will see a video player.  Below the video player, there are two options for videos you see.  Choose the second if you want to see the video in which I make an appearance, or the first if you want to learn about our IELTS program.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Technology and Communication

Yesterday, I had a conversation class for which the topic was Technology and Communication.  It is not my favorite class to do because it is hard to get a flowing discussion from the topic.  I usually find myself working through different questions like a machine gun.  One question after another with no transition.  At the end of the class yesterday, I felt the same way I do any other time I have a dud class: embarrassed and sheepish.

But in the class yesterday, I did at least have a student tell me something I didn't know or never given thought to.  That is the best I can often hope for if the students tell me something I didn't know about China and maybe I can tell them something they didn't know.  I asked a question about how technology and communication had changed in their life times.  I had a student, who was in his late twenties, tell me how when he was young, he and his mother had to use the telegraph to send a message to his father who was working out of town.   They had no telephone in their house and there might have been one telephone in the town in which they lived. 


John Derbyshire on White Lightning.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Parents told me to.

Yesterday, I had a class with a student who is studying to be a nurse.  She told me that she would rather be a Chinese teacher (that is teach the language) than a nurse, but her parents thought it would be better for her to be a nurse; nursing being the perfect job for a woman. 

This admission scandalizes most foreigners who pride themselves on being independent, but it is a bad thing?  You could say that some people want to enter into professions that they are not in any way qualified for and they should have the guidance of an adult who knows more about the travails of life.  You could also say that a very unimaginative parent could ruin their child's future but encouraging their child to go with the trend of the moment.

But in China, you have the one-child policy.  It causes the parents to put so much pressure on one child.  Forced to groom their one child, Chinese parents don't give the child much latitude.