Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Party at the Blue Bar! Snobbery.

Halloween at the Blue Bar was a bore. There were too many people. In retrospect, the school should have held the party at its own location. The mix of Expats having a Friday night drink and students wasn't at all right.

But I should say my mood at the party was tempered by trouble on the home front. Things are peaceful now but only because of the level of the fury before. But at the party, I was the opposite of a genial host. I was more like the head mourner at a funeral.

Being a lowly Expat English teacher in Wuxi, China I have to deal with snobs. I have learned to put up with it, but my wife can't. And China, despite all those years of Communism, the snobbery here is more intense than you would see in the West.

Being in a foul mood, I noticed a lot of Chinese yelling "laowei" as I passed (usually I ignore it), and I then heard them talking a lot about me as they muttered that word at least three or four times in their ensuing conversation. When they come to Canada or America, they would never hear passerbys saying "China Man" to each other.

The evolving movement to save baseball.

The evolving moment to save baseball, should include the elimination of the wildcard.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It is has been a horrorshow day for me so far today. I won't say why. I am hoping the Halloween party will revive my spirts. My original idea for a costume was to wear little clothes, a tie, and a sandwich board saying "lost all my money on Wall Street." I don't think the negative theme will go over well in China so I will try to draw a figure of some sort on the sign instead.

Wuxi Tony Update #218

Because I love all those who visit this blog, I have given you an extra special bonus video as a present and proof of my eternal devotion to you.

Thanks Mom for the clothes Tony wears in this video.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #217

As promised, here is WTU 217.


I brought out the companion volume to the Kenneth Clark Civilisation T.V. series that I brought to China with me. I got almost through the first chapter when my eyes told me that it was to sleep. Now I could tell you that in defining what civilisation is and describing how fragile it could be, Clark said things that apply to today by mentioning civilisations falling due to lack of confidence, fear of war, and boredom, but I won't.

It is almost 1000 AM and the other two thirds of the K family aren't up yet. The little one better get up before I leave so I can make WTU 217.

Obama talks like a lawyer or a law professor. He is more weaselly that I previously suspected.

It is cold on my ride to and from work. I packed a pair of gloves yesterday for the eventuality I will be needing them in the next few days. And I was serious, when I talked about getting leggings.

It is the Chinese way to have open windows about the house to let the fresh, but cold, air in. No wonder, I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. To uncover the sheet is to invite a cold morning slap.

It looks like the Phillies will win the World Series Tournament.

Rain, Rain, Rain they tell me. Tony asleep!

One of the students told me tonight that there will be two or three weeks of rain starting today in Wuxi, China.

Another one of my students was telling me about her classmates in high school having abortions and of another young girl having the baby only to sell it off to some province, possibly Guandong, where they would eat it. The others in the class didn't believe the story. They admitted that there is baby trading but to the cannibalism story they could not lend credence.

I definitely believe that it will rain for the next two weeks because I have the long ride to and from work everyday now. It just stands to reason.

Besides that, I really don't have much to say for myself though I will try to make this blog entry longer whether by hook or by crook.

The Montreal Canadiens have been around one hundred years. I wish the Habs the finest of years and I will cheer for them to win the Stanley Cup in 2008-9 (though I won't pay much attention to the NHL till playoff time). If they don't, it will be the first decade (I define a decade as going from the years ending 0 to 9) they didn't win a Cup. I have said before that it ought to be the law they win the Cup every decade.

Remember this 0-bots: The power to tax is the power to destroy.

I have another late start tomorrow so expect WTU 217 to be made and uploaded tomorrow.

This month will be the record month for visits and page views for this blog. I hope that this blog will eventually exceed my other blog which I am ashamed to say is a MSN Spaces blog. I love the look and feel of blogspot.

The election is coming soon I know. I see Slate's poll of its staff has only one person voting for McCain and that person seemed a RINO at best. Appalling. National Review, which doesn't hide its ideological inclinations has more people supporting Obama. You would think Slate could have at least had a 75 - 25 percent split in Obama's favour. Maybe, there is something to be said for the assertion that the MSM has been grossly biased this year.

It boggles my mind that some people think Palin is less qualified to be Vice-President than Obama is to be President. Palin has had real-world experience including executive experience while the best that can be said for Obama is he has a talent for being slick and once was a community organizer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am from Wuxi ah!

Wuxi locals, when speaking english and probably chinese too, add ah to the end of most everything they say. So for example they say the following:

I am good ah!

How is Tony ah!

I am happy ah!

I am from Wuxi ah!

and so on ah!

I should ask them if they read my blog ah....

Wuxi Tony Update #216

I have a difficult time getting time to do as I say.

Short Day.

Tuesday is a long day; Wednesday's a short one. I don't start till one this afternoon.

Tony was the first person up among the Kaulins family this morning annoying the other members, especially Father Kaulins. FK was feeling G because the W has become Cer.

The peace process may start tonight, but like other roads to peace, I am pessimistic.

Tony, the little bugger, knows how to open those safety latches we put on drawers in hopes of stopping him from getting into things that he shouldn't.

Rainy weather will mean a wet ride to work for me.

Get out of the drawers Tony! Why is it the young mind prefers disorder to order?

I am in a quandry about my Halloween costume. It will have an Economic crisis theme to it. Some have told me that the Chinese wouldn't see the joke in it. But it is the only idea I have for Halloween and it is too late to change it.

Long Day.

Tuesday was my long day this week. That is, the longest day I spend at work. Of course, everyday with Tony is a long day, especially for my wife, and sometimes me. And I am not complaining except that I would rather spend more time at home than at work.

Tonight, Tony was up when I got home. He didn't fall asleep till the wife put him in his crib and I endured twenty minutes of his crying and waving a pleading hand at me. I let him cry himself to sleep all the while having to strongly resist the urge to pick him up. Doing so, I thought of a Clarence Thomas interview I heard where he talked about the man who brought him up having to be tough on boy Clarence and not give into the urge to be easy.

To pass the time in Wuxi and to keep myself sane, I listen to right wing pod casts I can get off Itunes like Radio Derb, Dennis Prager, Shire Network News, and Hugh Hewitt. It saddened and shocked me to hear that Hewitt's sometime sub host Dean Barnett, a Red Sox Fan, died. It was not long ago that I was listening to him talk with Mark Steyn about John McCain.

Some of the richer students have lost massive amounts of money on the stock market. They will have to forgo trips to Europe.

It is getting cold on my bike ride to work. I am thinking I will ask the wife if I can borrow her leg warmers.

David Warren on education. I can't help but want to link to his every column. What he has to say in his latest column about bachelor's degrees is so true. And I have to confess that "the expense of spirit in a waste of shame." that Warren writes about applies to me in a manner that I am very ashamed to admit, but must, because it would be against truth not to. I went to school and got two bachelor's degrees - seven years spent in school because I didn't know what to do with myself. Only by listening to Rush Limbaugh did I get out of the rut I was in - though I have to admit I am still not satisfied with my performance: the goals I set were to modest for myself and I haven't really exhibited the courage I need to get through life.

I did some things that were commendable in a way. I moved to B.C., Canada and I took the first job, I could find in a restaurant, and worked till something better came along - the driving job. It made me enough money that I could buy a car and go to China. And I always read, unconstrained by having to think about passing a test as I did and letting my thoughts wonder.

In the Warren article I linked, he said the best students were self-taught. And I would have to agree with him from my experience in school and teaching here in China. I learned more reading in the library and in used book stores than I ever did sitting in class not following some professor's lecture. I slap myself with shame when I think of the years I wasted in university.

If I can impart anything to Tony, it would be that he learn as much as he can on his own. That is, I would like him to become self-taught and learn from those who have something useful to impart. Don't believe the bullshit!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #215

More fun with Tony.

Scheduled Power Outage a day late.

The Power outage happened on Monday and not Sunday as I had be lead to believe. So it was a surprise to us when it happened today. My wife's reacted by ordering us to abandon the house for the afternoon and go to downtown Wuxi.

My wife drove the electric bike downtown while I took Tony on the bus. That was her idea and I readily assented. On the bus, someone gave up their seat for me because I had Tony. But it wasn't someone able-bodied, it was an older woman. She found a place she could sit (a spot where the rear wheel well rises) so I didn't feel so bad. But it was strange nonetheless. My wife has had no one yield a seat to her when she had Tony. But as this forum on Wuxilife shows, Wuxi people can act strangely and rudely and wonderfully.

Downtown, we spent the afternoon at a Haoweijia Steak House on JiaFeng Road. We had steak and lamb chops served on a grill plate with noodles and egg. I didn't mind it one bit, though many Wuxi Expats have not had good things to say about this style of cooking meat. We then stayed for the afternoon coffee special. Two cups of the Brazil coffee and I was wired. Tony was wondering about the restaurant. There was an instance where he ran towards a step scaring the hell out of me because he was going to fall flat on his face. I ran to catch him but was too late and so he fell on his face but didn't hurt himself as he in fact landed on his arms. Tony is refining his having a fit technique so well that I fear one day he will give himself a concussion - he likes to sprawl on the ground from a standing position, bucking his head backwards. I was able to get some reading in when the wife took Tony for a walk. I didn't read anything too profound, just a couple short stories from a Louis L'amour book my parents sent me. I am in my Western novel stage of my reading life. I stop reading Science Fiction when I was twenty five.

Back to the WuxiLife forum, I just linked. An expat from Beijing did a blanket condemnation of Wuxi locals. In an tiff, I could do blanket condemnations of every place I have ever lived in the world. For example, I could say that the beauty of British Columbia is inversely proportional to the manners of British Columbians and Manitobans are as flat personality wise as their landscape, but I have a feeling you would find rudeness wherever you go and within whatever community you have contact with. I have meet some rude Expats from all over the world. And I say this not from the holier-than-thou perspective, but from the perspective of a crank and bore and egomaniac.

After leaving the steakhouse, yours truly got a haircut. He no longer looks like a long-haired, pot-smoking Obama voter but a clean-cut, respectable, wildcard-hating, conservative, hard-working, no-nonsense reactionary and Sinatra fan.

Timken makes ball-bearings that are 1.2 meters wide. Wow!!

I set my all time monthly visitor record today. Thank you rare readers!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Now What?

I have got the computer for a half-hour and I am raring to blog. But what to blog about? Me, I guess and my humdrum blah blah blah life. (Funny how it is that I can be a very foreign country and see the experience as being so humdrum)

Don't mess with the Kaulins family. Especially if you are the husband in the Kaulins Family and the other part of the Kaulins family, which might as well be the entire Kaulins Family, is your wife.

Obama is a fraud with the chameleon like quality of being whatever you want him to be. After having seen a video where these star-struck people ask the viewer to imagine a President Barack Obama, I really see the sense in this David Warren column which I leave the following quote:

Deeper than this: Obama has presented himself from the start as a
messianic, "transformational" leader -- and thus played deceitfully with ideas
that belong to religion and not politics. That he has done this so successfully
is a mark of the degree to which the U.S. itself, like the rest of the western
world, has lost its purchase on the Christian religion. Powerful religious
impulses have been spilt, secularized.

And if its not Obama some people fall for, it is Environmentalism.

Some of the students believe that China will not be hurt by the Economic Crisis in the rest of the world. One woman even told me that it would only effect China's export markets.

I walked to a nearby store and I saw about one hundred people standing around watching one television. I assume these people are all the workers hired to help build the third phase of our apartment complex among other building projects, of which there are many, around our area.

There are numerous pretty women in Wuxi who have never been to the dentist. So many seductive smiles tarnished by a tooth in need of a good bleaching.

I had a student asking me if a million could buy a big house with a yard in West Vancouver. Off the top of my head, I don't think she has enough money.

Another of my students returned from a trip to San Francisco. "How you get to San Francisky? Did ya drive or ya flew?" I asked. The students found the question don't in a Sid Dithers voice to be very funny.

Another exercise in a Private Class had me making the students finish a phrase "I wonder...." in response to a question. So I prompted the student by asking "Why did she run away?" The student responded "I wonder why she ran away" and I started to sing what I believe is a song by Frankie Vallee. It was great fun.

Tony favours his mother over his father, and I can't blame him for his choice. He knows who is buttering his bread for him.

I watched a Marx Brothers Movie, Love Happy, where Marilyn Monroe was introduced. The DVD made great hay of her being in the picture, but her appearance was very brief. The movie was too much on plot and not enough on comedy.

I live for visitors and page views in this blog. And I am proud to say that this will be my best month for visitors and possibly for page views ever. I thank all my rare readers. Why you do read this blog is beyond me but I won't question it. There maybe be something in my random typings that you see that I can't. Maybe, my blog is like watching a car crash. Who can say?

Wuxi Tony Update #214

The best ever. And I mean ever.

What if everyone lost their voice for a day?

I am working Sunday afternoon to cover a shift of a Trainer who has lost his voice and now I am thinking: What would it be like if everyone lost their voice for a day? I suppose it would be more typing, but to the ears, the day would be one of sweet music. I am thinking most talking is utterly unnecessary. People talk not to inform others but to seen talking. Most talk is hot air. Witness the U.S. presidential debates.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

No Power Day.

I am having an early Sunday rising so I can put in this short blog entry. The power will be off in our apartment, a scheduled outage that is common in China, on Sunday from 9 to 5. Sunday is usually my day off but because of this outage it is just as well that I go to school today and teach some classes to cover for another trainer who lost his voice.

I was watching My Fair Lady last night, when I wasn't uploading WTU 213 - see previous entry. But, I fell asleep sometimes during the movie. Don't let this fact demean the movie - I think it shows that I had a hard day at work.

Last night, I also tried to take photos of the son and me using the timer on my camera. At the top is the best photo I could come up with. The little pocket camera I have been using all this time doesn't make it easy for me to center myself in the image. And because of the bike helmet, I am never going to have presentable hair.

I look outside and it is wet so I will have an enjoyable electric bike ride to work. But on the bright side, I did get a parking spot for the bike last night.

Tony's favorite or most sought after thing to play with is my mobile phone. I made the mistake last night of having it out in the open so he could grab it. He started pleasing buttons on the phone and making phone calls. And so when I took the phone away, he had an awful fit that my wife wanted me to give into. But after five minutes, he found something else to hold his interest.

Wuxi Tony Update #213

Friday, October 24, 2008

Early Saturday Rising

I will arise at 600 Am on Saturday for the next three months because I will be having a three hour class to do with Suntech. It is not at all the ideal for the teacher or the students but as always I will make the best of it, trying to energize the students - the energy has to come from me (intimidating thought).

Tony is getting the idea of picking things up and then giving them to his parents. Last night, I pointed to about five things on the floor and he gave me three of them.

I have just read about Mike Bloomberg having the two term limit waived so he could run for a third term as mayor of New York City. Mayor Putinberg, anyone? Funny, how the left-wing nutters dream about a Republican-fascist attempt to extend Bush's term when in fact it is the Democrats who will willing subvert rules and lie to keep themselves in power.

Where I park my electric bike every night.

I run a cord around the lefthand wall in order to charge the bike.
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A stuck horn

I saw an unusual thing today that once I saw it, I had to wonder why I had never seen it happen more often. This electric bicycle rode down the street seeming to blow a shrill-sounding horn non-stop for no reason. "What is with the lady riding that yellow scooter?" I said to myself. This yellow scooter happened to be going the same way I was and I noticed that other people on the street were turning to look at the scooter blowing its horn - an unusual occurrence because the sound of horns blowing is ubiquitous here. When the yellow scooter came to a stop, I saw the driver turn off her ignition. She had a stuck horn. The first time I had ever seen that in China. How I haven't seen it more often now seems strange because Chinese drivers and cyclists use their horns more than their brakes or their turn signals.

Tony in strange mood today.

Tony, my son, has been a miserable boy today. This morning, he was up at 545 am and could only be placated with a bottle.

In the afternoon, Tony came to school and was very shy. He even did not want to walk for a while. But then, he found a key and tried to open every door he could find with it. Taking away the key from him and he would have a fit. When he has a fit, Tony will fall to the ground scaring the heck out of me because he likes to put his head back as far as he can.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The view outside AKIC Blogging Central.

AKIC Blogging Central is located in Wuxi, China's Hui Shan Economic Development Zone. When I look out the window of Blogging Central, I can see the above.

I took the photo about ten minutes before publishing this entry. The Internet is amazing. Try doing this thirty years ago.
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Many Chinese children don't know their parents' birthdays.

Many Chinese children don't know their parents' birthday because there are two calendars in use in China: the traditional lunar calendar and the solar calendar now used in the West. I can say I don't know my wife's birthday because of the confusion too. I had first thought we both had a birthday in December but then she said her birthday may be some date in February.

There is a war going on in my life to which I am an innocent bystander. Till the clouds of war clear up, there is nothing I can do. And when a truce is declared, the damage may be permanent.

Tony was up early today: 700 AM. He didn't have a nap the rest of the day and was asleep when I arrived home from work at 1000 PM.

It was cold on my electric bike ride home. I am going to have to wear more layers and gloves in the next few months.

I started reading this Louis L'Amour collection of short stories - the Outlaw of the Mesquite - three months ago. I am only halfway through it. My days of reading voraciously are over, as our my bar days (as I said in the previous blog entry). I hope I can remember some of the wisdom I have read and impart it to Tony - not that he would heed it anyway. And I am enjoying the Louis L'Amour novel. I hope the Louis L'Amour who fan who pointed on a mistake I made about him reads this.

My number of daily visitors has been increasing in the past week. Why this should be so is a mystery to me. I don't think I have written anything that interesting. But thank you to all those rare readers who have read this blog.

I received a directive today or rather yesterday to have the trainers talk up the Halloween Party that we are having on the 31st of this month.

I took the bus to work this morning. I saw traffic was jammed on this narrow road with two lanes going either way that the bus takes and was amazed when this motorcycle with wagon full of oranges insisted on going against the flow of traffic. There was nothing for the bus driver to do but honk at the motorcyclist in frustration ; and for me to shake my head in amazement at the maneuvers the Chinese perform in traffic.

My company class in Legris wants to talk about the financial crisis. I will give them the democrat and republican versions.

I am in Wuxi, China. I say this so I can make my google alert for Wuxi, China.

Shadow, a former tutor at HyLite in Wuxi, China got married recently. I am hoping she will send me the studio photos she took before her wedding because she looks quite stunning in them. Shadow is a girl who stands out from all the others I have meet in China. She is unique in her manner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Never going to the Bar again. Just as well.

The wife laid it on the line for me this morning. If I go to the bar, don't bother coming home. I didn't argue the point. I was in complete agreement anyway. My bar days are over. Last night, I felt out of place at the bar and couldn't wait to get home and be with Tony. This desire to be with Tony was out of love and duty.

Tony wakes up early.

My son Tony, the little bugger, was up four hours earlier than yesterday. I was groggy when he awoke me and still feel so now as I make this blog entry.

I went to the new Ronnie's Australian Bar in Wuxi, China last night. The interior was new and swank, a considerable improvement over the old location. Ronnie's is located near the New Virus a block or so from the Old Carrefour. It is in the midst of a development area to be filled with restaurants, bars and cafes. Walk around this pedestrian mall and you can't miss this tall smokestack saved as a heritage site by the Wuxi local government. The nearby canal, however, is a toxic green color.

Students are telling me about orders from America being cancelled.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #212

Tony is like an angel in this video.

Up early.

Tony, the little bugger, has me up early. He woke up at about 530 AM and started babbling something along the lines of "hew nai" which sounds like drink milk in Chinese. I fed him the milk and then held on to him for twenty minutes before he fell so soundly asleep that I could put him down.

Now, I am awake waiting for the maid to come.

I am also surfing the Internet. I am following the U.S. election but find myself having not much to say on the topic because I think all that can be said about it has been said and because it is clear that it has been going on for too long and is tiresome. The result of all the campaign finance reform has been to make the election longer - all the serious candidates have been running for over a year now. And despite the length of the campaign, not much of real substance has been said by the candidates. The election has not been one about issues, but personalities. Looking at the comments made on many articles of endorsement whether for Obama or McCain, I read personal insults but little response to what the articles say.

The wife is telling me to be careful these days because she has heard on the news that there are more robberies and murders in Wuxi these days.

In building and decorating apartment, the Chinese seem to trash things before they finish them. The brand spanking new hallways that we had when we moved in have been permanently defaced by the workers who decorate the apartments. In some apartment buildings, I have heard stories of the decorators leaving all their used materials in the stairwell and that the resulting trash pile never gets thrown away. Thankfully, in our apartment, this cannot be done because the stairwell offers no hiding places.

Real Estate prices are falling big time all over China. I can't see how they won't fall in Wuxi. There is so much building going on here that it looks like severe over development. I reported earlier in this blog of experiencing the eerie feeling of driving by unoccupied tall buildings eclipsing the entire sky at night.

It is now 730 AM. I will take a shower. The maid should arrive around eight.

Late Night Whatevers and Whatyacallits

  • Tony likes to dance. Tonight, I was watching a DVD I have of The Jam (what terrible taste in music I had in the 1980s) and Tony was grooving along, swinging his arms and shaking his butt. But a better and more civilized story I have to tell you about, if I haven't already, was the time, not too long ago, when I was watching an Astaire and Rogers DVD (awesome stuff and proof of a maturity in my musical taste) when Tony was actually imitating some Astaire dance moves.
  • Back to the Jam DVD. 1980s and early 1990s Andis would have pissed his pants seeing all the clips I saw tonight on the DVD. However, 2008 Andis was bored watching it.
  • Tonight at school, I failed four students. Two of them just didn't do any work for the private class. Another one while actually making sentences for the first time in the two months I have seen him, couldn't ask any follow-up questions. When I asked them "Why?" after they told me a sentence, their shoulders drooped in a "the gig's up" manner. The last student I failed blathered and mumbled words without making coherent sentences. He was then despondent when I failed him.
  • Another student should have been shot. Some people are genuine waste of space.
  • Someone, I was told, asked who is this Andis person who always shows up every time I type Wuxi, China, and ESL in an search engine. He he he. It is good to have some presence.
  • Say what you like about Sarah Palin, but of the four candidates on the two tickets, she is the only one who may have actually done a useful day's work.
  • It rained tonight but my forty minute ride home by Scooter was not so bad. The rain was light and eventually stopped.
  • The hockey season has apparently started and I don't care. Mind you, I stopped getting excited about regular seasons when the NHL had 16 of 21 teams make the playoffs. Now, I can't look at the standings because they are inflating team's won-loss records by rewarding points for games lost in overtime.
  • Is the baseball season finished yet?

Woman sleeping on the roadside?

On my ride to work today, I saw a woman who was sleeping in a sitting position on a roadside curb. But her posture looked to be that of someone who was either dead or was in despair. And around her, there were sacks that surely contained all her possessions.

Maybe, she was dead.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Third of a Million.

On my Youtube channel, I just surpassed the 333,333 number for video views: one third of million. At the rate my videos are being watched, I will have gotten a million views in 2011.

Tuesday is my long and busy day at work. I have so much planning and scheduling and teaching to do.

I listen to podcasts on my MP3 player in the evening, but then I fall asleep during them and awake to hear another episode. In the morning I have a could-have-sworn-I-heard feeling.

Anyway, off to work....

Wuxi Tony Update #211

Here is some video with me blah blah blahing.

You can also watch Tony go for a walk in a big public square near our apartment and a whole load of government buildings.

Last night, Tony was pushing his toy truck instead of picking it up like he used to do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Random Blah Blah Blahs

This blog entry is full of random whatevers. Some days, you do what you got to do to keep the blog going. I possess this blogger's sense of duty where you must post everyday.

So here I go, blah, blah, blah......

  • I watched Foreign Correspondent (directed by Alfred Hitchcock) on DVD last night. Not Hitchcock's greatest motion picture, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The acting was terrific. It was interesting to look at another time and see how people were. (All those people dressed to the nines at the train station - amazing!). The story or plot seemed weak though. Things just happened without the best of reasons. The movie mentioned Latvia, which with me being of Latvian heritage makes it worthy of watching over and over again. I suppose you don't see the movie much now because it ends with the playing of the American National Anthem - it was a war-time movie.
  • I will have to cut these blah blah blahs short. I have to take my son for a walk.

Wuxi Tony Update #210

Tony in Downtown Wuxi.

The canal in the background is now too far from the Wuxi, China train station.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tony is sleeping.

I have never seen my little guy sleep so much. It is nearly 1100 AM and he is still in bed.

Ballroom Dancing.

Tonight, the Kaulins family went to a hot pot restaurant in Yangqiao where they kill the chickens on the premises.

"Can you eat the whole chicken?" my wife asked.

I couldn't, so I took Tony, my son, for a walk about the restaurant. Tony, being nearly 14 months old, is a curious boy who likes to get into things he shouldn't. And there are a lot of things he shouldn't get into when hot pot is on the table. So around the restaurant we went. The place was small and offered Tony little to look and play at unless you think it is okay for Tony to play around the chicken cage.

After three trips around the small restaurant which was too decrepit and uncleanly to look at, I took Tony up these stairs which I had assumed lead to nothing. But as I ascended the stairs, I heard music and thought the restaurant had a KTV (a karaoke bar) on its second floor. But it wasn't a KTV at all. It turned out there was a ballroom dance bar instead. The place was also decrepit but the dance floor was polished and shiny. I watched, the six or seven couples on the floor, mesmerized. The classy thing I have ever seen in China.

Ronnie's Australian Bar, a popular Wuxi, China expat bar opened in a location this afternoon. I didn't go. I have a family to look after. Many Wuxi expats looked forward to the opening. And some did not. Wuxi, China may be a city of 4 million or so, but if you are an Expat, it is really a small town. And like small towns, relationships can be strained. There is a divide in the Wuxi Expat community about the bar-going crowd between two Australian pubs. I can now say I have heard disparaging things said about the patrons of both bars. I straddle the divide, or rather used to straddle the divide. Now, I go to these places too rarely to make an impression or to be noticed. But, I do have to be careful to not mention one or the other pub in certain people's presence.

I go halfway around the world and see some things don't change. I knew this, having read an memorable essay by G.K. Chesterton, but I choose to ignore the advice under the strange belief that I could change and that the wise things Chesterton said didn't apply to me. You can't escape yourself or the tyranny of other people.

Day off!

Phew! I have been far too busy at work to do any proper blogging. The world just seems to be spinning too fast these days for me to keep up.

So, I am in a daze.

Thankfully, I have a day and a half off. I got to take my little guy for a walk. Not that he knows but I have been promising him all week. Sometimes when I leave I thinks he is anticipating that I will take him with me.

I am going to have to learn to let go of some personal ambitions I may have. Tony and Jenny should be all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tony a happy boy.

After the last week, Tony is probably more relieved than anyone that the ordeal is over. His first 24 hours back in the apartment seems to have been a happy time for him. Last night, he was very cheerful and talkative.

My wife no longer can complain about him saying only my name. Last night, he said "mama" over and over again and probably two times in one stretch.

This morning, he woke up at nine a.m. in a cheerful mood. It was good to see him oversleep for a change instead of trying to get the early worm. Last week, he would wake up crying.

The only regret about his sleeping in is that he woke up ten minutes before I had to go to work. So, I felt sad having to leave him right after he walked over to me and given me a hug.

How couples meet in China.

I asked students, last night in a salon class, how couples in China meet? The common answer was at university, at work, or through introductions by friends or family. One student told me of a couple that meet on a train. It was just by chance that they happened to be assigned seats next to each other on a train and got married.

Wuxi Tony Update #209

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tony is back home!

Tony and his mother returned to the apartment this morning. Tony quickly reacquainted himself with his toys and the washing machine. Pressing the buttons on the front end loading washing machine, he managed to lock the door so we had to run the machine for another cycle.

Things are back to normal.

Lawyer student.

I had a lawyer tonight in a private class at school. Learning he was a lawyer, I asked him what kind of law he practiced. Business, he told me, and so I learned he spends a lot of time writing contracts which have to be very well written with every conceivable occurrence covered. Criminal law, he said, is a terrible thing to get into. Verdicts are predetermined and the best efforts on the part of lawyers cannot change them.

Another student told me that buyers make a lot of money in China from kickbacks and that often the quality of products suffers.

Tony returns home tomorrow morning. He looked great tonight when I came to visit him.

One more day.

I visited Tony and the wife and my mother-in-law at the hospital this morning. My wife that they will leave the hospital tomorrow morning. So, I will have one more night alone at the apartment.

When I arrived at the hospital, Tony was asleep. Now, every parent wants their young child to sleep as much as possible because it also means they can alsorest. So, it is strange for me to say to a credulous rare reader that I actually wished Tony was awake so I could talk to him. It will probably be the only time I will say this. (unless of course, Tony falls in a coma, so I really mean under normal circumstances, I like to see a healthy Tony asleep)

I have just learned that the Conservatives got a bigger minority government in today's Canadian federal election. So nothing has changed and the government Canada has will continue to be center-right at the best of times but more than likely center-left. Prime Minister Harper has been a disappointment to conservatives. When the left-wingers at work say they respect him, you know he is not being conservative at all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I am up early. I plan to go to see the rest of the Kaulins family at the hospital this morning. But, I will have to wait for the maid (pronounced i.e. in Chinese) to do her stuff. Then, I can race to the hospital.

So in the meanwhile, as I wait, I have time on my hands. I notice and appreciate how much Tony takes up of my time. Right now, the five hours I would have till I have to go to work this afternoon seem an eternity.

I believe that when I do go to work I will know the results of the Canadian federal election. I should ask my students if they wish they had the vote here.


It was a depressing day on the micro level, but I can't say why. Micro being anything that has to do with me. Time for a change of course.

On the Macro level, the world stays silly. People, who should know better, are endorsing Obama (Buckley and Hitchens). Reading Hitchens' piece endorsing Obama, it reads to me like Hitchens is saying 0 is dumb and McCain is dumber. He does say "Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion". Most of his endorsement article says nothing at all about Obama but comments on McCain's awfulness. McCain's attempts to out-stupid stupid are causing many to leave his ship.

Tony will be back home tomorrow evening (Wednesday). I saw him briefly tonight as I dropped into the hospital on my way home from work. He didn't seem to recognize me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian Election tomorrow. Crossed Legs. Tony out of the hospital soon.

My Canadian Expat friend who follows these things tells me that the Canadian Federal Election will be tomorrow and that the Conservatives will get another minority government. "Who is denying them the majority this time?", I asked, "Ontario?". He told me Quebec.

The space on an Electric bicycle between the steering column and the seat is used for a lot of things. I put my backpack or any else I might need to carry. I have seen people carry their children, industrial supplies, food orders, and other bicycles in that space. And like cars, some people treat their electric bicycle like a moving living room. I have seen people talking on their cell phones will riding, and tonight I saw a man driving with his legs crossed. His one calf rested on the upper thigh of his other leg like he was watching television at home.

Tony is still in the hospital with his mom and his grand mom. Because of work, I am staying in the comfort of our apartment and am earning criticism, justly deserved for doing so. Although because of where the hospital is and where our apartment is, my staying in the apartment is something that I must insist upon. I would too grubby for work if I stayed at the hospital overnight. Though, it looks like I will be staying at the hospital tomorrow night to placate my wife who is bearing the brunt of Tony's troubled last few days. Tony, by the way, is getting his appetite back. He was eating ravenously tonight, the wife told me via phone. He will be out of the hospital in two days or maybe even tomorrow.

I had an eerie experience at the Children's hospital. Tony is now in a third floor room. Yesterday evening, I went to the second floor and experienced the sensation of descending into an ocean of children moaning and crying.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #208

This update was taken in the hospital. This series does have enough followers who care about Tony so I feel I would be remiss if I didn't keep them up to date.

Days off spent at Hospital with Tony.

Sunday and most of Monday are my days off. I spent them at the Children's Hospital in downtown Wuxi with my wife and son. It hasn't be the happiest of days for the wife and I. The wife is very tired. She has been holding Tony a lot, especially because he would never still with the drip attached to him. A few instances, the drip has become unattached and the wife panics so.

This unplanned hospital stay is really more than we can afford at the moment. They tell me that he may have to stay there a week. I wonder if it is necessary as the hospitals in Wuxi always seem to want the patients to stay as long as they as can so they can bilk them as much as they can.

Tony is doing fine as the above photo shows. He has his miserable moments when the nurses and doctors come to treat him, but his is energetic and is sometimes happy as well, again like in the above photo.

I nearly got in a fight on Sunday at the hospital with a Lookie-Lou. Wuxi people love gawking. Watching accident scenes is a popular spectator pastime here. Any trouble on the streets draws crowds. I have heard that at some accident scenes, people would stick their heads into the car to look at the victims. There seems to be no respect for people's privacy. At the hospital, we have a private room but that doesn't stop people from wanting to look in. During an episode with an unattached drip, the door to our room was open and I saw this man look at us with a dumb gaping look and I wanted to punch him in the face. It reminded me of the prying look a Chinese onlooker that happened at an Expat funeral held in Wuxi - the brother of the deceased wanted to attack the onlooker. I gestured at the man looking into our hospital room to mind his own business and the next thing I know he was wanting to attack me. He was held back.

It turned out that he was in a room across the hallway from us and he had sick twins to deal with. It unfortunate for him but he was still an asshole I don't go gawking into his room. I minded my own frigging business.
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tony on the drip.

After work, I went to the children's hospital in downtown Wuxi to see Tony. Tears came to my eyes, when I saw his head wrapped in tape and the drip attached to his forehead. My wife told me that four pins were used before one could stay in his forehead - an indication of how much Tony protested the treatment. So dehydrated was Tony that three drip bags were administered.

Tony is home at the time of this blog entry - Saturday evening. He is still not eating but he will drink a little. He would have been staying overnight at the hospital if my wife had been able to get a room. He will be staying a few nights starting tomorrow. The fewer the better is what I am hoping for. Tony injured his mouth a week ago tonight so it must heal soon.

The children's hospital is a dump. It is probably due to be torn down. The ward Tony was staying in till he had finished with the drip bag wasn't cleaned. It wouldn't have surprised if I was to see used diapers thrown under one of the beds. The Chinese attitude to public cleanliness is that someone will eventually come around to clean the mess so no need to take personal responsibility to keeping a place clean. The bathroom was so beyond the pale that it behoves me to try and describe it without using foul language, so I won't describe it at all.

Near the children's hospital is an empty lot. An empty lot serves a purpose in a crowded Chinese city: garbage dump. How it is that it doesn't seem to bother anyone Wuxinese is beyond me.

The Chinese system is user-pay. It couldn't be otherwise. China doesn't have the resources to provide free medical care to 1.3 billion people. And the government would be nothing but incompetent if it tried, for as a student told me "When the government ran the restaurants, there weren't any restaurants, how can we expect them to run hospitals?" Still, the government must be running some sort of crony-capitalist system however which gives you the worst of cronyism combined with the worst of government organizing.

Tony is in the hospital.

My wife has taken Tony to the hospital because he hasn't eaten or drunk anything in the last four days. She has put him on the drip. But to do this, Tony has to be knocked out with something because he doesn't sit still.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tony at least drinks something.

Tony had some horrible fits last night. At five a.m., he had everyone else up in the apartment as his crying seemed irreconcilable. No one could ascertain what he wanted. But at least, he had a drink of water after not having eaten or drank for the day.

The wife is contemplating taking him to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tony is in a bad way.

I took this photo of Tony this morning. This he is doing himself. He is taking the pillow and laying it on the floor and then laying himself on it.

He hasn't been eating these past few days because he has a fever and a sore mouth. It is making my wife distraught. I tell her to take the baby to the doctor but she tells me that the doctor would only give him more medicine.

I am left hoping Tony's mouth heals soon, and he gets his appetite and thirst back.
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My new route to work

My new route to work takes me down this road which goes under an elevated highway.
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AKIC Randoms

  • David Warren on the Canadian and American elections. He laments that even if the Conservatives get a majority in Canada, it won't do any good. In was in a Canada with a Conservative government that idiotic institutions like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Human Rights Commissions were not eliminated. Canada has gone leftwards and the Conservatives are too scared to do anything about it. At least the American election is nasty in comparison, Warren says. Although, it would be nice, I think, if one of the two political solitudes that exist now in America was represented by someone who wasn't trying to straddle them both like a man screwing a dog.
  • Message to John McCain. You won't win the election by trying to out-stupid stupid. It may be good politics in theory, but in this election, John, your stupid policy pronouncements like buying bad mortgages and jumping on the global warming hysteria wagon is making you look old and senile.
  • I think I have found the best and fastest route home on my electric bike. I have come to the conclusion that something going the wrong way on some bicycle paths is a good thing if the paths aren't busy and you can avoid make left turns at busy intersections. The fast route I have found cuts five minutes off my commute home. It takes me past some factories and under an elevated highway. It is dark in some spots so I put my lights on but I can see everything that is coming.
  • Today, Tony pointed at something he wanted for the first time, at least for me anyway. There was a drink box on the table that he wanted. I gladly gave it to him because he, with his sore mouth, he has been eating or drinking much.
  • Tony will give you things he has in his hand if you ask him, as well.
  • I didn't realize till today how hard it is to get a tourist visa to China. A new teacher I have hired told me that you need to get a hotel reservation and prove you have enough money to stay in China for the length of your visa (at 6000 Aussie dollars must be in your bank account if you want a sixty day visa). When I got my two tourist visas, it was simple the case of filling out a form and giving them the cash. I got my first tourist visa on the day I took the application form to the Chinese consulate in Vancouver.
  • Near the factory I ride by, (see photo in a recent previous entry), there are countless rows of what must be slum tenements. I should take a photo and publish it in this entry. The area these people live in must be so polluted.
  • There were hundreds of centipedes crawling in part of my apartment complex, thankfully not anywhere near my apartment. I couldn't determine why they would be there. Was it that they were in a shady area? Was it where they always hung out before the land was taken for development?
  • I always have to remind the trainers that they are living in a dictatorship when things happen that make no sense.
  • Real disgusting places to walk by are the temporary living areas for the construction workers of our apartment complex. Some of them throw their garbage out their windows onto the street.
  • I saw a bicyclist have a real close call as I was being driven from a company class tonight. The bicyclist going through a red light just missed being hit by a bus by a foot. Having had to accelerate to get out of the bus's way, the bicyclist then just narrowly avoided hitting a scooter that was in the right as far the lights went. Some cyclists seem to assume that they can dodge anything, even the busiest of traffic. I know my dodging skills have improved a lot in the time I have ridden the scooter to work and I have taken some chances. I have even run red lights myself knowing cars will slow down for me. But some riders I seen are insane or blind.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My little guy is having a bad week.

My son Tony is having a bad week. He has had a fever and it has turned out that the cut he had on the weekend is more serious than we thought. The doctor told my wife that Tony's mouth was smashed up and has prescribed him some medicine that leaves his mouth looking dark purple.

So I leave you with the photo above. No Wuxi Tony Updates till Tony's mouth has healed.
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A factory

I passed this factory on the way to work this morning. This is what it is like to be in China in the early 21st century.
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #207

WTU #206 was the most viewed WTU ever. WTU #207 is the longest WTU ever, being over ten minutes long. Enjoy Andis and Tony playing.


You should visit my teaching blog site. It is stock full of photos taken at or near my school.

Tony had a fever but the wife tells me it went away.

Four months of taking my electric bike to work and I still haven't found the best route to go to and from work. Tonight on my way home, I found a new path to take that was not lit and passed a "fine chemical" plant and then a food market. I have also adopted more and more Chinese driving habits. Sometimes, one is better off going against the grain of traffic on bike paths because you can avoid having to make wide left-hand turns. It is much better to cheat taking the crosswalk to get through an intersection.

Monday, October 6, 2008

800 Views for WTU 206!

Wuxi Tony Updates are not that popular. I may have ten people who watch them on a regular basis. I am happy if I can get 50 views for one episode. Till today, the highest view total for a WTU was over 300 for WTU 144.

Today the record was shattered as WTU 206 (see previous entry) has been viewed over 800 times in the ten hours it has been on the Internet. Why this happened is a mystery to me. The video is not particularly interesting except for a moment where Tony hisses at me, but I couldn't see anyone wanting to stick with the video for the three minutes it took for the hiss to happen. I think the abnormally high view number had something to do with the time the video was uploaded. It was viewed over 780 times in the first hour it was available on the Internet this afternoon.

I recall having another spike for a video uploaded in the afternoon, local time. But after the spike, no more views. So there was a chance for a video of mine to go viral but it didn't happen for reasons of quality.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #206

This update was taken Sunday night. Nothing happened but Tony was great all the same.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

One more day off.

Today, I will make a list of mindless observations. I shouldn't complain about the fact that Tony and the wife leave me little time to sit down and blog, but I just did.
  • My Holiday is going this way: I had three days off. I then worked a day. Now I have a day off and most of the next day off till tomorrow evening or maybe the afternoon.
  • So many things to note about my son Tony's development. Tony, I should mention, is 13 months old. Or that is the official answer the wife and I give when asked about his age. Tony is interacting in so many new ways. He is giving things to, fighting with, and pointing at others. Looking at him walk, it is hard to believe that only a month ago, he could barely walk at all. Now he is climbing stairs and he can stand himself up without benefit of props.
  • It rained heavily last evening. I would have taken the bus home but I needed the bike to get to a dinner party which was on the way home but not on a bus route. Wearing my helmet for the first time when riding, I had to choose whether to put the visor down (I did) or answer my wife calling me on my mobile phone (I didn't till I got under the cover of an overpass and could pull my phone out of a pocket which was under my rain jacket). I went to the new apartment of a German Expat that my friend knows. The apartment was big but because it was built in China, it has issues to be dealt with. With the heavy rain, I heard the stories of how drainage here is poorly dealt with.
  • In 1951, Bobby Thompson hit what was arguably the greatest home run in Major League Baseball History. It ended one of the greatest pennant races ever as the New York Giants came back from over 10 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Giants subsequently lost to the Yankees in the World Series but it is an afterthought to mention it. The accumulation of results over 154 games that lead to a moment that a short seven game series could never replicate. I never fail to get a tingle up or down my leg when I hear the recording of the play-by-play announcer screaming "The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!". I can't think of any great play-by-play calls where the announcers yell "The Brewers clinch the Wild Card" or the "Padres win the National League West!".
  • Someone pointed out to me that the '78 Red Sox were victims because they did after all have a record better than the winner of the American League West that year. But the '78 Sox came in second in their own division. They had 163 chances to prove they were the best and they didn't do it. My argument has always been that pennant races like '51 and '78 would not have happened if teams in second place had been allowed to get playoff spots. Sure you may have more "races" in this day and age. But the increased supply of races MLB has given us has only cheapened the concept of pennant race by allowing also-rans like for example this year's Twins and White Sox to participate in one.
  • Baseball is a game built on the a long accumulation of results. The extra round of playoffs runs so counter to the baseball tradition that I have to question whether people who support it like the sport.
  • There are lots of roads leading to nowhere in particular here in Wuxi, China. There is one stretch of such road on my way to and from work. Recently, my friend Andy and I happened to drive up and down this road. We saw that workers had been recently employed to trim the bushes neatly along the road and on its meridian. Tiled sidewalks on either side of the road are fifteen feet wide. This road is three lanes either way. It comes to an abrupt end at a field and vehicles, proceeding toward this dead end, have no where to turn around other than a pot holed dirt path fit only for jeeps.
  • Tony cut his lip yesterday and bled a lot so that my wife and her friends were wondering if they should take him to the hospital. But, the bleeding stopped and Tony continued to play like nothing had happened. Thankfully, the accident didn't happen on my watch, but my wife's, so I didn't get blamed for it. Did I get mad? No. I ironically noted how Tony only bleeds when my wife is tending him. Knock on wood.
  • It is easy to win a debate if you lie or speak half-truths so effectively like Joe Biden did in the debate with Sarah Palin. In the format of the debate, I would have defied anyone to try to parse the mumbo-jumbo Biden was speaking and trying to make a coherent response to it in the short time provided. But, Biden is a veteran at it. And Palin being the outsider and so not up on Washington sophistry, looked like she was evading questions.
  • I am spending much of today as a persona not grata in the apartment. I did something wrong and so earned my wife's unforgiving wrath. These occurrences are like a storm that has to be waited out. I just have to make sure the strain does not cause me to respond to my wife's barbed comments in kind.
  • The German Expat I know looked at my 30 rmb bike helmet and told me that bike helmets in Germany would cost 100 euros or so. He proudly told me that the motorcycle helmet he had was so expensive because of government regulation. The helmet I bought probably wouldn't have meet German Safety standards and that was why it was such a bargain. My opinion on the role of government in motorcycle safety is this: government's role should be restricted to scrapping the corpses and brains of motorcyclists off the road, and of course enforcing rules of the road. People who ride motorcycles take on risks and I don't see why the government should devote resources to ensuring their safety: let the motorcyclists do it themselves if they care to.
  • The highlight of yesterday was Tony greeting me as I arrived at the dinner party yesterday. Jenny and Tony were already there when I arrived. Opening the door, Tony saw me and ran into my arms. A sweet moment that I will of course become jaded by said some unsentimental, cooler-than-thou person I know. Life is an accumulation of trouble punctuated by the occasional nice moment that you should enjoy while you can because it can become in the past and unreattainable very quickly.
  • Is being cool and cynical the only value that matters in this age? For example, I have had people tell me that it doesn't matter if Obama wins the election. He will just be a middle of roader when all is said and done. When you try to point out the shady connections in Obama's past, these people just don't care. Why worry about politics?, they tell you, It is a big shell game.
  • Speaking of committing the sin of being uncool, I watched another Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie a few evenings ago. Tony caught a scene where Astaire was dancing away and tried to imitate it. I like those movies and I will return to the place in Nanchang market and hopefully find some more.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #204

The Palin-Biden Debate.

I was disappointed by the debate, which I was able to watch on the TVU player here in China. Palin did not look like a conservative to me. She was bascially me-too on the Global Warming debate. She went along with the notion of reducing carbon emissions. Doesn't she realize that going along with AGW, threatens the freedom and prosperity of so many people in America and around the world? Why didn't she have the courage to challenge Biden on that bullshit? And her take on the Finanical crisis: greed on Wall Street. Greed runs through the human heart. It is the source of booms in the economy; it is also the source of busts; and it has under the guise of capitalism, made the life of the average man so much better. It was truly the greed of all the population by living on credit that caused the crisis. It was a lack of courage of politicians from both parties that started the problem and kept it going. A leader sometimes has to scold the people but she didn't do it. She could have also talked about how the dirty hands of the Democrats were in the sub-prime mortgage including Obama who as a community organizer sued banks for not giving mortgages to his voters, for the redlining as it were.

She did not seem to be the Reaganesque Conservative that her proponents had been saying she was. She didn't seem the Sarahcuda that the foaming-at-the-mouth left claimed she was. No, she was McCain's running mate and having to go along with McCain's wrong-headed positions on AGW and the Financial Crisis, she look compromised. What a shame.

But then some initial sampling of opinion, says she won the debate on style.

I will have to ask the students about Biden saying that China is building 1 to 3 coal plants a week and so polluting the atmosphere and America.

Wuxi Tony Update #203

This video was taken on a pedestrian overpass near our apartment.

Aftermath of a scooter accident

For those of you who are familiar with Wuxi, China, this photo was taken at the intersection of Zhong Shan and Jie Feng roads near Nan Chang Temple market. The riders and the authorities were nowhere to be seen. The bikes were left in the middle of a very busy road on a National Holiday. My wife had no explanation for why this should be.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Monument to a Bill Clinton Postcard. Wuxi, China.

This video was taken not too far from my apartment.