Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #236: Ahhhhhhh!

Tony and I had a screaming match till I discovered he had something he shouldn't in his mouth.

Early Morning at Nanchang Temple in Wuxi, China

Wuxi Tony Update #235: Look at the hands

Don't forget to look at WTU #234. I uploaded two WTUs today.

Wuxi Tony Update #234: An update of Wuxi Tony Update #233

The end of WTU 233 is resolved in this video.

Laura Vanderkam on Genius.

You may have read my entry about the Derb had to say about the issue of nature versus nature. It was a negative entry if I don't say so myself - there is so much you can't change about human nature. A lesson, that in practice, I won't accept.

Here is an article with a more positive spin on the issue. Lauran Vanderkam in The City Journal, says genius is both born and made. In her review of Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, she says you need talent, luck, and connections to succeed. Gladwell to prove the case uses an example that applies to me and that I can back up by personal anecdote:

To build his case, Gladwell relies on his own “outlier” ability to weave
a coherent tapestry from dozens of seemingly unrelated anecdotes—a talent that
made his previous books, The Tipping Point and Blink, into international
bestsellers. We learn, for starters, that almost all of the players who’ve made
it into the Canadian Hockey League (Canada’s junior league) were born in the
first few months of the year. It’s not that boys born in January are better
hockey players; it’s that the birthday cutoff for the youth leagues is January
1, and so boys born in January are usually bigger and more coordinated than
their teammates born in December, making them more likely to catch the eyes of
hockey scouts. They’re then given better coaching in more competitive leagues,
and hence they play more, get more practice, and eventually are, in fact, better
than the unlucky Sagittarius kids.

And unlucky Capricorn kids too, I might add. I was born in December and I was a very bad hockey player (house league I was), but I won't use having been born in December as an excuse for not having made it to the NHL. However, I do have an anecdote that proves the author's assertion. There was one time in my youth hockey days where I attended a fall hockey school. My particular age group was over-registered and I was relegated to a group that was a year below me. In the time I spent in my age group, I was one of the poorest players. And I felt humiliated to be put down to the younger group. But I did excel in the younger group and in the school-ending scrimmage game, I scored two goals, one of the two times I ever did in my hockey career.

My son Tony, being born in August, stands a better chance of being a good hockey player although being born in China and not in the first two months of the year will make it difficult.

What I also get from the City Journal article is that hard work does matter. Bill Gates logged in 10,000 hours of programming as a child. The Beatles played eight hours day after day after day in a German strip club before they hit it big. Also, it was hard work that helped two of the most successful cultures in America:

They (successful people) also tend to be the beneficiaries of positive cultural legacies. Gladwell argues that the entrepreneurial work ethic forged in the garment factories in New York 100 years ago helped spur the rise of the Jewish professional class. Similarly, the legacy of the Chinese rice paddies, which required careful, diligent, business-like cultivation, helps explain high achievements of people of Asian descent. Gladwell cites a Chinese aphorism—“No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich”—as exemplifying this legacy.

So, you will have to excuse me while I go back to work for my family and my students.

Here are is a link and another link: blasts from the past, as it were.

Thank God, there are millions of Chinese in Wuxi. Otherwise, Wuxi would be a very small and ugly town.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This is it!

The maid comes in an hour so I have to take a shower.

As well, Tony is awake.

So much for blogging this morning.....

Wuxi Tony Update #88

This update was taken in May. Watch this and WTU 233. You will see how much he has grown. Amazing.

Wuxi Tony Update #233: Smack Daddy!

I think this is the worst WTU ever. Watch only if you have the courage, for the ending is tragic.

MIssed it by that much!

Another blog entry from another blog, not mine, inspired me to look up my Latvian name Day. And wouldn't you know, it was on November 20th!

If you had told me even seven years ago that I, this person of Latvian heritage, would be teaching English in China and worrying if a couple of Brisbane, Australia boys were suffering from colds, I would have said "you just never know where life can take you." It is been a strange trip for me; stranger than I could ever have imagined. Where will I be in five years?

Work has started on the Wuxi subway. They have been taking soil samples, I have learned. I didn't realize what was being done till someone who knew and I passed workers doing that exact thing. So, I have been seeing the soil sample takings happening in my area of Wuxi for the last month.

I have been waiting for the longest time for the next David Warren Column. I had subscribed to his newsletter and almost two weeks passed before I received my first one. I then immediately learned why he had not published a column for a while: his father had died.

It is ten o'clock at night and the wife and son are asleep. I will soon join them. I got to work tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It is seven o'clock and all's well.

It is seven a.m. that is. I am making a brief entry before I go to work. I wished to report that the wife and son were in the next room sleeping soundly, but Tony has awoken, alas. And I have just made him some formula.

Which reminds me that I have to buy him some diapers.

I will teach Suntech and do a movie SPC in the afternoon.

Outside, it is cold and sunny, and therefore crisp.

Derbyshire on Nature versus Nurture.

John Derbyshire says no we can't. Can't What? He says that even if given the opportunity, we can't do anything. That is, we are all of varying ability and these abilities and disabilities manifest themselves as soon as we are born. And try as we might, there are things we will never be able to do well. It is a depressing thought but the more I have lived, the more I have seen this observation to be true.

I will use myself as an example. The thing that most strikes me now when I look back on my formative years is what an inability I had to get on with my peers. My teenage years were quite isolated. Attempts to change this resulted in an realization that I was full of resentment against other people and at the same time was extremely bored and uncomfortable in their company. No talent for friendship: that is my major flaw; or at least one of my major flaws. The present situation seems just as it was in those teenage years.

Another flaw is a fear of confrontation which try as I might to reason away, I still have. It may well be that my nervous system stops me from acting and that there is nothing I can do about it.

What I have noticed as a teacher and as a supervisor with the increased contact I have had with people in the last four years is that Derbyshire's observation is hard to refute. The wide variety of pronounced personality flaws I have encountered amazes me. I have now come to believe that so many fiction stories I have read and quickly labelled as unrealistic because the characters did illogical things are not so unrealistic after all. People will do the wrong thing because that is the way their personalities are.

You can't change personalities; you can't change abilities. The most well-meaning of person can maybe achieve a modicum of progress in some way; but the people who make the most progress are those who have the ability.

So however my Tony turns out, I will love him all the same because it is my duty. If Tony doesn't think much of his old man when he grows older then that is the way it will be. I would be surprised now if didn't turn out that way.

The truth shall set you free. But naked truth, like naked old women and men, has to be dressed up with some decorative falsehoods.

The paradox! The paradox!

The Traffic Dance

It is supper time at work. I ate the food the wife provided me and now I can blog.

The afternoon was busy enough. I taught one class and planned for 7 hours worth which I will do tonight and tomorrow. I marked the final test for Legris which I did last night. I did more scheduling. I alwaysmake last minute changes to any planning I have done.

Part of my prep involved watching and making notes about the W.C. Fields' short "The fatal glass of beer". I will show the film in a movie class I will do tomorrow. The film is bizarre. I don't anticipate the students being able to understand all of it, but I am sure the film will amuse them somewhat. Some of the idioms have to be explained. Some of the language has been localized to make the characters sound like hicks and so confuse the students more. But I can use this to explore the theme of differences between the Chinese city and countryside.

Tonight, I will do a Speakers' Corner which I wouldn't normally mind but there has been a Castro coming to them recently.

I made a women scream as I rode to work today. I caused this to happen on the road that the Blue Bar is on: Chong Ning Road. I just finished making a right turn onto Chong Ning from Jie Fang when this woman decided to cross the street. I was expecting her to slow down but she didn't so I veered to go around her on the left. But as I tried to do this, she stopped and so I tried to veer around her on the right. But she then moved forward and we were locked in the fatal dance where instead of going in opposite ways to avoid each other, we were going the same way and headed for for a collision. This realization caused the lady to scream and I to come to a quick stop. The lady screamed something in Chinese which I didn't understand and we went on our way.

In a world where everyone follows the rules, the woman would have been clearly in the wrong for crossing where she did. But in China where no one follows the rules, the etiquette is different. In her mind, I was probably in the wrong. I don't know how to live in anarchy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #232: Putting things in a bag.

The wife is away....

While the wife goes to the market to buy veggies, Tony plays and I blog.

The Chinese habit of opening the window for fresh air is driving me this morning. It is bloody cold. I close the windows and the maid opens them. My wife defends the practice. But yet I still get admonished for doing things that cause Tony to get cold. Maddening!!!

Tony plays with a toy drum that was a gift from his cousins.

Youtube has put it player in wide-screen mode. Why? It looks bloody ugly.

No more Piccassa 2. Now, it is Piccassa 3 that I use to organize my photos and to publish to this blog.

Will the attack in Mumbai be blamed on Bush? I don't see how it can, but someone will take a trip of logic.

A gift from Legris

I did a final test for my Legris class this evening. They attempted to bribe me with this Thanksgiving gift: a du du mouse. This mouse doubles as a piggy bank and a caddy for a mobile phone. Turn the on the mouse and it will light up whenever someone calls a nearby mobile phone.
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Demolition Company Girl. The rule of two.

I saw two accident scenes, a minute apart, tonight after having not seen any for thirty hours. They were both rear-enders. One had happened, going our way, just before we got to this major intersection. And as soon as we passed through the intersection, we saw another rear-ender, involving a taxi, going in the opposite direction. My rule of two was so quickly confirmed right after having mentioned in this blog not so many days ago.

In one of my classes last night, I had a student who worked as a clerk for a demolition company. I asked her if her company was involved in Wuxi's big demolition project: the taking down of the #1 People's Hospital which has been chronicled in the AKIC blogging sphere. She replied in the affirmative.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leotards and mini skirts

With Wuxi officially, morally, and for-all-practical-purposes-physically in its cold season, I find it interesting to report that the women about town are wearing thick dark leotards and mini-skirts. It looks quite attractive. I would take a photo but I want to leave it to your imagination; till I break down and say to myself "what the hey!" and take a photo.

Chinese Century?

Tony was asleep when I got home. And my wife went to bed shortly after he did. The K family is one tired bunch these days.

Tony can turn the computer at home off. He knows how. And he is also a little too fascinated by the keyboard.

Some of the students and Yank-hating expats have this cocksure feeling that China won't be unduly effected by the Economic Crisis. One student told me that their government's macro management policies with Chinese characteristics will see them through. They may even feel that the 21st century will be China's. But I say don't be so sure. China will get grey become it gets rich. Its' demography will doom it.

The Big O is going to try to save the economy he did so much to wreck. Good luck.

I didn't see any accidents on my way home tonight. The rule seems to be when I see one, I soon see another one right after. That is, accidents happen in twos.

One student said that the competitors of the big three automakers would love it if the U.S. government bailed them out. Instead of maybe a smarter, leaner company emerging from the ashes, the dead horses would be kept in the game with less of a chance to prevail than ever.

I was asked to go to the pub tonight. I had to refuse the offer. My wife wouldn't approve and I would have such pangs of conscience that I wouldn't enjoy myself anyway. I much prefer blogging while the wife and son sleep in the other room.

Another accident scene.

Riding to work this morning, I drove past yet another accident scene at another intersection familiar to me. This time a sedan clearly rear ended a taxi. I wonder if I will see any on my way home tonight.

The wife told me that she was going to take Tony to the HOLA store in the Baoli shopping mall.

The extension to Wuxi Haoyan (formerly Ba Bai Ban) seems nearly completed. As I walked past it at suppertime, I saw the interior was lit and well near-done.

I had this urge to find the histories of the St. Louis Hawks, Minneapolis Lakers, and San Diego Rockets. All were short-lived franchises from the pre-1970s NBA. Why I had this urge is a mystery. But then I was also trying to find out things about the World Football League, which went defunct after one and a half seasons in the mid-1970s.

One of the reasons I like George Bush: I never saw him once lower himself to the level of people who vilely insulted him. The Big O, on the other hand, has complained about attacks against him and even insinuated some that didn't happen like the time he said he wasn't liked because he didn't look like the presidents on the dollar bills. And there was also the Big O's saying that certain people clung to their religions and guns.

The receptionists were telling me to find a boyfriend for one of our study assistants. I told them I couldn't help her because I don't know any good single men.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dark and Cavernous

Not to fear, this is not a sign of an impending economic apocalypse in China. This office space will in fact be filled with employees as soon as all the rennovations are completed. The company, by the way, is Littel Fuse.
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Not Surprising

Riding home to tonight, I saw the aftermath of a collision between a dump truck and a mid-size compact car. The dump truck must have gone through the intersection without the pretense of stopping. The car was making a turn. Dump trucks rarely slow down in my area of Wuxi. I have seen them blare their horns as they run red lights. So, it is no surprise to see one in a collision. Anytime, I see a dump truck I slow down even if I have the right of way.

One of the trainers at work told me he saw a woman, in a very bad way, dragged from another traffic accident earlier today as well.

Vaclav Klaus will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union. At least there is one thing to look forward to in the upcoming months. Klaus thinks little of Al Gore. Klaus believes in free market principles. The sort of man who could save the planet.

Someone who watched WTU 231 says Tony has become a naughty boy.

It is official. This is this blog's best month ever for visitors and page views. Thank you!

One of the teachers at school tells me that people having been phoning his landlord asking for protection money for the foreigner. These harassers even went to the trouble of going to his apartment buzzer and deliberately jamming its' button.

It is William F. Buckley's birthday today. It should be an international holiday. Here is a quote from him that can help me take in solace in the U.S. election result:
A good debater is not necessarily an effective vote-getter: you can find a
hole in your opponent’s argument through which you could drive a coach and four
ringing jingle bells all the way, and thrill at the crystallization of a truth
wrung out from a bloody dialogue–which, however, may warm only you and your
muse, while the smiling parologist has in the meantime made votes by the tens of

Monday, November 24, 2008

Morning Off.

I have the morning off, soft of. Things will never cease to be hectic as long as I have Mischief and Mayhem boy in my midst. (And may I ever do!)

I took the initiative by going to the shop to buy eggs.

I wanted to take M&M for a walk, but the wife demurs because the boy has a cold.

I may abandon the M&M moniker for Tony. It now seems to me to be too like something a rap star would do.

So the U.S. government bail out the big three automakers? No! It is government nationalizing industry which is always a bad move.

The road to salvation for the U.S. economy runs through China? It may be if you accept the premise the U.S. government is going to have to spend itself out of a recession. Expect a long, long recession if this kind of thinking is widely accepted.

No more do I cull the articles at realclearpolitcs. I am finding realclearmarkets a useful site.

The legacy of George W. Bush. A lot will be written about it; I will add my two cents worth. But in short, I think Bush was a decent man undone by a lot of indecent people. There should be legacy of discredit for the purveyors of Bush Hatred.

Wuxi Tony Update #231: A Cup of Attack!

Tony is very aggresive in this video. You have to watch it to believe it!

The Christmas awareness season has begun in Wuxi.

I was taking the #25 bus from Yangqiao to downtown Wuxi this afternoon when I saw a Merry Christmas sign being posted over the entrance of a swank hotel next to Baoli. I looked at my watch and saw that it was November 24: Christmas and my birthday are a month away. It was the first time in my four years in Wuxi that a commercial establishment had reminded me that Christmas was coming. Lordy! Lordy! I have been in China a long time!

Tony has taken to attacking things with his head. When you watch WTU #231, you will see him headbutting my chest and a dining chair. He has genetically picked up a habit from my teenage angst days.

This is will a record month for AKIC blogspot. I have already established a new monthly high for visitors. Within the next 24 hours, I should also establish a page view record. And with five days to in the month, I will blow away my old records. Thanks to the rare visitors to this site, and to the even more rare regular visitors. I will keep thinking of ways to get myself in trouble with the law and the expat community here so stay tuned as they say.

Three foreigners walk into a bar in Wuxi. They sit down for thirty seconds and then quickly leave. Another expat witnesses this and asks the bar owner what was up. The owner said the foreigners were looking for sex and realized that they couldn't find it in that pub.

This evening, I went to Littel Fuse aka Concorde Semiconductors to participate in the opening ceremony of the English training program HyLite will conduct there.

I had a seat on the bus today and I was able to continue reading the Big 0's Audacity of Hope. One more chapter to go in it and I can read some more substantial fare like western novels by Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour.

Speaking of Gray, the Calgary Stampeders won the Grey Cup game beating the Montreal Alouettes 22-14. The Grey Cup is Canada's version of Australia's Grand Final.

From Seablogger, Taiwan is trying the Bush approach; Mainland China is trying the Obama approach to economic stimulation.

Who killed JFK? LHO did acting alone. The motive: LHO was a waif who craved fame as well as a Castro sympathizer. The magic bullet theory is true when you take into account the positions of Connelly and the President at the time of the shooting. No one came forward to say they saw a shooter from the front till three or four years after the assassination.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #230: Certum Scio

I mix Latin and the Jam in this WTU.

I take the bus.

As Homer Simpson said "public transportation is for losers." And I believe in an enlightened world instead of the one we are stuck in, private providers would provide adequate transportation for the all the public. Be that as it may, I took the bus home tonight. I wasn't interested in riding the scooter home in the cold and damp.

I sludging myself through the mush of the Big O's Audacity of Hope. I am now slogging through the chapter on race. I notice he talks about Asian-Americans when it suits his arguments but omits them when it doesn't. He mentioned the internment of Japanese during WWII. He noticed how there were few elected Asians in congress. (Throughout the book, he can't seem to walk in a room without noticing the racial composition, head-counting as it were, but that's another story) But he didn't mention Asians at all when it came to comparing various racial groups on economic performance. Asians beat out Whites, Latinos, and Blacks academically and financially in America. Whites being number two were actually portrayed as being number one since O segregated them from the Asians from these tables.

There is an argument to be made that ethnic groups that count on politicians saving them don't perform well in school and business. The Asians in America have better things to do than wait for a President Gei Wo Qian to save them.

Watch WTU 230 and you will see Tony grooving to the old British Punk Band the Jam.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Incorrect Spellling

  • Two times now, I have published entries with bad spellings. Sorry, rare readers.
  • It is raining out. I am going to school to do some extra classes. Ugh. Now, I have the problem of cold and wet.
  • Tony is up at 730 AM. Be a lazy kid for once, I say.
  • We had a going-away dinner for a trainer who got a job at a university in Wuxi. We went to the Amazon Buffet on Xueqian. It was as the locals say just a so-so. Near us, a crowd of exuberant Chinese there to take of advantage of all-the-beer-you-can-drink, was annoyingly loud. Not a good idea to give the locals free beer.

Keynes's mistake

The demand for commodities is not a demand for labour. If one does not appreciate this economic insight, then one can pout off nonsense like people have money in their pocket but are scared to spend it, and so the government should just jump in and try to stimulate the economy.

This doctrine is so rarely understood that its complete appreciation is perhaps, the best test of an economist. I will use an example to explain what I think it means. If memory serves me correct, JM Keynes actually made public pronouncement encouraging housewives to buy more towels in order to stimulate the economy. I even believe he said that these women should stop using those threadbare towels they have now. And even if he never said it, I have seen enough people in my time use this logic to explain how to stimulate the economy. First off, the towels have already been made. Some one else demanded the labour. The housewife is only buying the commodity. Even if she buys two extra ones, she is not helping the economy. For I don't see how you can help the economy by buying something you don't need or can do without. Market economies, properly run, are never that fatuous. The distribution of resources, brought about by this buying of unneeded towels is irrational and not optimal. Furthermore, the housewife is being asked to spend money at the expense of something she may need more desperately. And if this purchase does cause someone to make more towels and of course demand some labour, these commodities may not be needed. False signals have been given in the market that may result in a overproduction and mis-allocation or resources.

So often has misunderstanding of this doctrine resulted in the most fatuous of government economic decisions as well as the demands for these fatuous decisions.

The italicized quotes have been taken page 58 of my copy of F.A. Hayek's The Fatal Conceit.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A wedding not attended.

I was invited to a wedding this afternoon. But I have no time to attend, I am sad to say. I wish Arvin, a former student, and his wife the best of futures.

Friday ruminations

  • In my Speakers Corner tonight at school, we talked about the Economic Crisis. Most students said the U.S. government should bail out the Big Three Automakers. One student and I dissented. The students in support used the standard argument about all the jobs would be lost. Another argument employed was that the Automakers make good products that all want to buy but were victims like everybody else of the greedy financiers. But thinking about it, I say that it only shows how out of whack the financing was and as a result so were most of the economic decisions made by the Automakers. As well, I say that everyone would love to have a Ferrari or a big house too but that is just not economically possible. And if the providers of these goods tried to sell them at too high a price or tried to give insane financial support in order to get a sale, they would justifiably go bankrupt. Another student suggested that the government should try to stimulate the economy because many people with money in their pockets are scared to spend their money. I tried to point out that many people don't have money in their pockets as the level of consumer debt in America should show. And this trying to circulate money in the economy to stimulate it is a Keynesian notion that should have been discredited in the 1970s. The students also said that the Chinese economy would not be so effected by the crisis because of their government employing macroeconomic management techniques with Chinese characteristics. Hmmm.....
  • The wife was vomiting tonight. She said she ate so much. I hope that is the reason. But it is a worry. As I type, she sleeps, as does my son.
  • I also learned in the Speakers Corner that most Wuxinese have not put on the heat in their apartments. They will wait till it gets severely cold before they do. For now, they will wear more and more layers of clothes. That is what I am doing now.
  • I had a Wuxi T.V. reporter in a class today. I will have to watch some television now.
  • Tomorrow, I will do the movie Airplane in my movie salon. I will have the students to recount the gags, both word and visual, they heard and saw.
  • A day in the life of my school.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #229: A Conflict of Visions

I wanted to sleep in but Tony didn't.

Teletubbies versus Wizard of Oz

I would rather watch the Wizard of Oz DVD over and over and over again than watch the entire Teletubbies series. There is just no comparing. The Wizard of Oz is just flat-out great. The songs are catchy and the product of a clever mind. The Teletubbies, on the other hand, teacher children to be mindless.

Layoffs in Wuxi.

Students at the company Legris told me they weren't feeling happy because they have been hearing news of layoffs in Wuxi.

And the Big 0 is going to make it worse. Read this, this, and this.

I have been getting more applications for teaching positions this week. Why? It must be my other site has presence.

The wife tells me that our son Tony is hard for her to handle. He likes to walk and he is too heavy, 15 kg now, for her to carry.

There are a few people wearing toques on their head in Wuxi, and I am one of them.

Tonight, I talked to a student from Sichuan province. Sichuanese are never impressed with Wuxi food - it is too sweet. Which brings up a point of contention with my wife.

I have had two students this week from Henan province, the home province of Chairman Mao. Though, I keep my opinions of the Chairman to myself, I do tell them when I see a restaurant with a lot of photos of Chairman Mao (as restaurants form his home province seem to do), I know the food will be good. Food from the Chairman's home province is quite tasty.

I am working my way through the Big 0's book "The Audacity of Hope". Nothing remarkable about it. It is written by a Democrat and it doesn't seem to transcend anything. Parts of it are quite puerile, and parts of it are showy. Little to none of it seems novel. I don't understand how Chris Buckley, who labelled himself a right-wing guy, could be impressed this writing.

Everything we do in life is irrevocable. A scary and sobering thought.

I passed a cyclist on his left just as he was spitting to the left. A hazard of cycling in China.

Thing I have seen done on bicycles here in China: use of the mobile phone, ignorance of signal lights, smoking, and towing onto a faster bike by grabbing the arm of its' driver.

There is a good chance that this month will see AKIC blogspot gets it highest ever numbers for visit and page views. Keep visiting please to help me achieve this milestone.

375,000 views on my Youtube Channel. Keep watching. I want to get to 500,000 by the end of January.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tony steals my key.

Tony took the key to my desk. I never thought to conceal because he made a surprise visit. And so he took the key and passionately resisted my efforts to take it from him. I had to look for somthing in my school stash of stuff to give him that would take his attention away from the key.

I found a mini Yixing teapot did the trick.

Thursday Morning Randoms

  • Seagate employees have told me that their Wuxi plant will be closed for two days next week because they have had fewer orders. But no one is getting laid off.
  • I saw two accidents on my ride to work Thursday morning. First, I saw that a small truck with box had collided with an electric bike. The bike was smashed up but I saw no cyclist on the ground. The truck had made a wrong turn into a one-way road. I then saw that a car had rear-ended a taxi. The drivers were screaming at each other although the taxi driver was probably screaming more.
  • Tony went to bed very early last night. My wife said he went to bed at eight PM. He was a happy camper this morning. But, a little too happy for us. He has a mischievous smile sometimes.
  • Today, I wore five layers on my bike ride to work.
  • The wife has put on the heater for the first time. We have air conditioner units in the living room and the second bedroom (soon to be Tony's room).
  • I am always asking students if they have children. Finally, I talked to a student who has a boy the same age as Tony: 15 months. Marcia is her name and I hope she reads this. Marcia tells me she has ambitions to be a novelist.
  • Terry, one of our trainers, just told me he had two inches of water in his kitchen, but from what he doesn't know. But we don't think it is frozen pipes. But this is the sort of thing that happens in China all the time.

How cold is it in Wuxi? Random Thoughts.

I have to wear a toque (Canada speak) or a knit cap.

I saw my son briefly this morning because I had to leave early for work.

The three most famous Chinese people of all time: Chairman Mao, Confucius, and Bruce Lee.

The security guards in this town look like policeman.

I wouldn't buy hot dogs in this town.

You have to ask to make sure the bread is not sweet.

I have caught the Chinese saying Laoshu (teacher) and Laowei (foreigner) aound me thinking I didn't understand. So I would say the words aloud a few times and embarass them. I was amazed that this group of school children did this - they should have known better.

I wrecked the laces on my shoes.

I wore my bike mitts this morning and will wear them tonight.

A Latvian flag is on my desk at work, as I type. Thanks Dad!

I am making this blog entry at work.

I saw some other foreigner at my apartment complex. I didn't want to talk to him. I put my head down to avert my glance.

It may be cold but I am going to get some baozi from the booth on Houxixi. Now!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cold Wuxi Morning

There is not much for your intrepid blogger to report this morning other than the fact that it is getting colder in Wuxi. I have to think how to enhance my warmth on my rides to and fro work. The four layers I wore yesterday back from work weren't enough. I will have to add an extra layer, possibly a sweatshirt. I will also have to remember to wrap a scarf around my neck.

Work was insane yesterday. It was one of those days where I didn't accomplish anything and I felt I was working backwards. But today is another day, I say optimistically in the morning.

Tony was awake at six this morning. I had to arise to get a bottle which eventually put him back to sleep but not after some crying on his part. I went back to bed for another hour before I reluctantly arose.

This blog is out getting better numbers than my other blog. Which shows that quality (I haven't been doing much of substance on the other blog lately) can increase the stats.

Things people do on bikes in China.

I have meant to write a blog entry about things I have seen cyclists do on their bicycles and scooters here in China. But I never have the time to get around to it. So from now on, I will mention the crazy things I have seen when I have seen them.

Tonight, I saw a couple riding their bikes hand in hand.

Earlier this week, I had seen a man riding his scooter while carrying a 15 foot bar of steel on his shoulder. He had only one arm with which to control the bike.

I spent some quality time with my son. But it was only 30 minutes. He slept till ten o'clock this morning leaving me but a half-hour to walk with him as I had to leave for work at 113o.

I used to think the students who said that sleeping was their hobby and joy in life were lacking in imagination. Now, I am starting to think like them. Work and the news leave me only wanting to sleep these days and never get up.

Meanwhile, here is some gloomy speculation about China's plight in the economic crisis. Read this TNR article found via Seablogger. What would a regime change mean for me? Who knows? I can only hope that whatever happens, China deals with the recession peacefully. Living in Eastern China with its nice new highways and its' seeming middle-classness, it seems to hard to conceive of people wanting to rock the boat, as it were. Things seem very sedate here. But this is a big country and things are not what they seem to the naked eye.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wake up Lazy Boy!

Tuesday, I don't have to be at work till 1300 so I can take my son Tony for a walk. The wife even asked me to Monday evening.

So, it is now Tuesday morning. I am up. Tony is not. Lazy bugger he is!

Why don't you wake him? you may think to ask.

That would also mean waking up my wife. I hesitate to interrupt my wife's sleeping because she needs it and will tell me with great passion how much she needs it.

I should sleep with the other two myself, but the maid is here, and I have to let her in. I don't supervise her. I find the house is cleaner and neater after she has been here for the requisite two hours.

The only problem I have with the maid and this may seem a strange complaint is that I don't know what to do with myself. If the maid was not here, I would be putting things away and tidying up. So instead, I blog about nothing.

I look outside to see a very blue sky. Does this mean economic activity has ceased in China?

A thought I meant to put in this blog earlier: Based on what I see of Chinese behavior in traffic, they can't be Catholics. The Catholics have prohibitions against suicidal behavior.

Wuxi Tony Update #228: Tony walks in a Wuxi park.

I let Tony loose in the park and put the digital camera in video mode.

Wuxi Tony Update #227: Pushing a Pram on Renmin Rd. in Wuxi

I have done another traffic video but I am packaging it as a WTU.

It is going to be cold tomorrow in Wuxi, China.

It is not too often, I know the weather forecast for Wuxi, but my wife has told me that it is going to be cold tomorrow with a temperature below 10 degrees Celsius. Don't worry rare readers, I have enough stuff to keep me warm on my scooter ride to work tomorrow.

I have been working six days a week lately because I have a wife and kid. Not that I mind because I know I am doing the proper thing. But anyway, the point is that today (Monday) is my day off, and I am going to tell you what I did on my day off.

I went to Downtown Wuxi. The wife and Tony and I went to the post office so we could mail Christmas presents to our parents in Canada. Now, I seem to remember, and may lightning strike me if I am wrong, that in the series Civilisation, Kenneth Clark quoted H.G. Wells as wanting to run down priests - that being how much he hated them. I feel the same way about government officials or postal employees. The filling out of forms drives me mad!!!!

My son Tony had a grand time wandering around Wuxi's Chongan market and park area. At a stage used for public performances, Tony and this other boy ran around, continually tripping over each other. Tony was at a disadvantage in most of the collisions, but he wasn't hurt. Most of the boys the same size as Tony seem to all be a year older than him though, and so have better coordination. Watch WTU 228 when it gets on my YouTube channel and this site and you will see what fun it is to see him go for a wander.

I hate taking the public bus. If the Big O (Obama) wants to help those poor people holding their breath, hoping they have enough money to pay their bills and send their children to college, he shouldn't try to ruin their spirit by making them take the bus. There is no better way to feel like a loser than by taking public transportation.

With the buses being so crowded, an incident that sometimes happens on the bus where a passenger will complain that the driver missed the stop or didn't give enough time for people to get off the bus. Tonight, a passenger was so irate, he walked to the front of the bus, screamed at the driver, and then gave the driver a menacing gesture, as he got off.

Pigeon Eggs for Sale!

The man reading, waits for customers for the eggs in the red basin laid by his prize pigeon.

Can you see the pigeon?
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AKIC in class

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #226: Jolly Good Fun!

It is a terrible thing to say but my wife has never been happier than she has been the last few weeks. I thought I would sneak that comment in when no one was looking.

Anyway, the above video, for which I actually wrote some lyrics, is inspired by my watching the Wizard of Oz on DVD this weekend.

Did you feel the earthquake?

Towards the end of my last class Sunday afternoon at HyLite School, I felt the table shaking. I wondered who was doing it, but then carried on with the class. Having a new trainer sit in on my class as well, my mind was on putting up a good show and so I was annoyed the distraction. After class, one of the other teachers at school asked if we felt the earthquake. I said no and thought another earthquake missed for the third time in my life.* But the trainer with me said he felt it, and feeling dumb, I recalled the table shaking.

But was an earthquake the cause of the shaking?

Then there were two close calls on my scooter ride home. First, I proceeded to make a turn left as the left turn light had turned green. But a taxi ignoring the signal made a right turn and cut off a bike in front of me that was also making a left turn. The cut-off bike fishtailed in front of me and I couldn't stop fast enough and so lightly tapped him from behind. There was no damage so the scooter driver quickly went on his way. Once the taxi had made its right turn, I made my left. And as just as I was about to complete my left turn into the bicycle lane, I saw another scooter coming directly at me full speed. This scooter was going against the flow of traffic and the lights. I and the other rider had to slow down very quickly and the other driver fishtailed while doing so. Most Chinese don't believe in an afterlife; but the way they proceed in traffic, you would think that maybe they do.

I watched two old movies on DVD this weekend. I watched the Wizard of Oz. The movie was a great technical achievement. And I loved the scenes with the dancing munchkins and the goose-stepping midgets. I showed the movie again for my son Tony's benefit and it kept his attention for a while. And at one point, he was dancing. Tonight, I watched Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. It is the movie that introduced the song White Christmas to the world. It also featured a black-faced Bing Crosby singing a song about Abraham freeing the slaves - certainly something that would never be filmed today.

*I can recall two times when I lived in British Columbia that I missed the experience of an earthquake while others around me did not. The first time, I was working in the back of restaurant, and others came from the front exclaiming "did you feel the earthquake?" I said I didn't. The second time, I was working for DHL. I was at a shopping plaza in Abbotsford. I dropped off a package at a doctor's office. I got into a vehicle and drove across the plaza and made another delivery. As I walked into the office, the receptionist was freaking because she had felt an earthquake, about 4 magnitude. I saw the lights shaking. But because, I was in the vehicle at the time of quake, I felt nothing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

DHL layoffs in North America.

My old company, DHL, had plans to expand into North America. It seems that these plans have been abandoned. I worry for my friends who I knew there.

Wuxi Tony Update #225: Hoodwinked

With apologies to Dr. Seuss.

A few things.

When I arrived home tonight, Tony had a big smile on his face and he ran arms spread wide to meet me at the door.

Our neighbor Cecilia, who works in the nearby Ramada Plaza Hotel, is pregnant. She is expecting in May.

They are offering Hilary Clinton the Secretary of State position. What are they thinking? Will we ever be rid of the curse of the Clintons?

Gong Li has taken Singapore citizenship.

Things I was told in my fashion conversation class.

Mao suits are making a comeback and they are very expensive. But, they don't just come in green, the suits are sporting all sorts of funky colours.

One of the students has a friend who goes to Hong Kong and spend thousands of RMB on fashionable clothes.

Another student's husband has spend lots of money because he wants to look like James Bond. He has bought a James Bond Car, the clothes as worn by James Bond in the movies, and an expensive James Bond watch. This student put up good arguments to counter the contention of other students that women are more into fashion than men. She said that men may not shop as much as women, but when they do they spend much more money. The fact of the matter, continued the women, was that men can spend more in ten shopping trips than woman can in a hundred.

I am waiting for our new trainer to arrive from the Shanghai Airport. As I type, he should be here in twenty minutes. I want to welcome him and make sure he will be looked after in his first night in Wuxi, China.

As soon as I put on long johns, the weather gets warmer. Go figure.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Why do I title this entry so? Life, I guess.

A good enough day, I suppose. I wish I was with my boy. He is very active and exhausting his mother, and I wish I was taking him for a long, long walk about now.

The Chinese government is expressing surprise that the Economic Crisis has effected China so badly.

We have a new trainer arriving tomorrow at the school. Harry Moore is flying via Singapore Airlines and will be in Wuxi, hopefully tomorrow afternoon.

As I said in the other blog, I wish the weather would just be one thing for day: either cold or hot.

The wife is baking chicken again for me tonight.

We have a female student named Dylan. Can you do that? I thought that Dylan was a male name but she insists that is now popular to name girls Dylan in the West. So it could be.

A certain activity in Australia is called "doing the paperwork". The business is not done till the paperwork is finished!

A box of stubbies is called a slab in Oz as well.

I can't relax till I am home, in another four hours.

I sure have gather a lot of useless paperwork here in my office over the last year.

Riding an electric bike, I can testify that there are a lot of pedestrians who don't know how close they have come to being hit, and not just by me. Pedestrians walking in bike paths are treated as moving pylons.

Tony took a key and tried to put it in a keyhole. It was the wrong key for too small a hole, but give him a month and he will have it figured out.

More and more, he looks like a little person and not a baby. His facial expressions are more and more reveal different emotions.

Tony also put a cup in the loading spot of our water machine. He hasn't figured out yet how to open the spout to fill the cup. Give him a month.

I am thinking that my video WTU224: Attack Daddy! is getting a few more hits than what is normal for a WTU because of the title.

I do an Golf event at the school tonight for a company called Lite-On. We will hold a tournament in the cold. It so be grand fun!

Another article in praise of President Bush , from Australia. An admitted minority opinion but I am in full agreement.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Financial Crisis Randoms

It was a busy day for me today. I was on my feet all day and it was like I was popular although it was all because of work.

Tony, aka trouble boy, was up early this morning. We were able to make a video (Attack Daddy!) on a day when I normally wouldn't have had the time.

On the ride to work today, I tried out these special mitts designed to be worn when riding a bike in the cold. The mitts are attached to the handle bars of the bike so you can operate the brakes and accelerator with your bare hands. Cool.

My wife also bought me these leg pads that you can use to block your shins from the wind. These pads remind me of the ones worn by Hockey goalkeepers. I am not sure if I will wear them, but I suppose I must.

I just lightly touched the rear corner of another car today. I say lightly in comparison to yesterday's.

At school, a man came in inquiring about teaching jobs for an acquaintance of his. He was an American project manager for an Electrical Bike manufacturer here in Wuxi. He told me about a model they manufactured that had a 110 volt battery and could go up to 100 km per hour. These bikes are not available for sale in China, I was sorry to hear. But he did tell me that my 48 volt battery bike could go faster than the 45 km per hour it does now. The bikes here in China are set to go a maximum speed, but if you know how to jigger the device that the restricts the speed, you can go faster. I would like my bike to do 60 km per hour. It would cut about five to ten minutes off my commute if it did.

I had a 90 minute class at a company devoted solely to the economic crisis. The students had many grim things to say. One student told me that thousands of companies have closed in Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces. Jiangsu has not been hit badly yet because many foreign companies are located here. The students all agreed that the crisis was serious though one confidently predicted China would not be hurt so badly by the crisis as other countries because "it can make everything here.". There have been layoffs in the Wuxi New District and many migrant workers are returning to their hometowns. One student reported that Sony in Wuxi is going to lay off workers. One student said the Iraqi War had something to do with it. Though when I asked the students if George Bush was to blame, most said no. The students said that the sub-prime mortgages and the living on credit were the cause. Iceland, one student told me, has resorted to eating fish because they can't import food.

Tony came downtown this afternoon. He was troubling to his mother that I had to accompany her to the bus stop and wait for the bus with her so she didn't have to carry Tony.

My wife baked a whole chicken, head and feet included, yesterday. I eat the chicken the last few days though my wife ate the head and feet. In Wuxi, chicken feet are very popular.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #224: Attack Daddy!

A Fine Day for Banana Chips

I have taken a liking to Banana Chips. Give me a bag of them and I will eat them as fast as a bag of Lay's American Style Salted Chips. Yum Yum Yum.

Now that the election is over, I don't know what to do on the Internet. I go to the same places but with a sense of boredom.

Tony was asleep when I got home tonight. This time, I don't need him to be awake.

A link in support of George Bush. And another.

A link to a blog about Chinese thought in America.

The China Beat. Another blog about China.

Interesting Sights on My Electric Bike Ride to Work.

When I saw a man sleeping, on a mat he had laid out on a median, while I was on the way to work, I said to myself that it was an interesting thing to report in my blog. I also said to myself that I can make the excuse that I thought it was prying into people's privacy if I took a photo.

And I then saw something more interesting, much more interesting. As I approached this intersection I saw a crowd of people and a traffic jam. That could mean only thing: accident. As I got closer to the intersection, I saw a truck, with a long trailer, was flipped on its' side. The truck was in a strange place to be in the particular intersection because it was directly facing a center median. I couldn't even begin to guess what the driver had done to get into the position. And I saw no evidence of a collision with another vehicle. To get through the traffic jam caused by the flipped-over truck, I did what the Chinese always do, I did the every-man-for-himself thing and got through very quickly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #223: Tony Returns!

Tony, the prodigal son, is back.

Here is Tony in a photo freshly taken and uploaded from my camera this morning. You may notice he has a cold. Like me, the cold weather is not agreeing with him.

Speaking of which, I will be wearing long johns (underwear) for my ride to work. I have also asked my wife to locate my mitts. I look forward to the fun of wearing layers of clothes to battle the cold.
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I see Tony.

I was hoping that Tony would be awake when I arrived home tonight. It is not often I wish this thing because, truth be known, babies are best when they are sleeping and secondly when they are happy. But life being what it is, Tony was asleep when I wanted him to be awake. Tomorrow morning will hopefully see a true reunion between father and son.

Tony did wake up tonight and I got to hold him, but that don't count as a reunion because he woke up grumpy and groggy. And he was in no mood to be with anyone but his mother.

Funny, how heavy he seemed when I did hold onto him. It couldn't have been because he gained a lot of weight in a fortnight. In my imaginings, he must have been lighter.

I heard a good story about Chinese electrical setups. One of our trainers tried to use a special kind of heater in his apartment last year about this time. In Wuxi, an expat finds himself always looking for heat in an apartment in Winter. The first time Dennis put on this heater, it apparently took out all the power in his apartment block. He didn't know this. So as soon as the power was restored, he put on the special heater again, and bob's your uncle, it took out all the power in his block again. I giggle hard thinking about it.

The students said the purported photo of the Loch Ness Monster I showed them reminded them of a dinosaur. In Tibet and Xinjiang, many Loch Ness type monsters are believed to inhabit lakes there.

The students also told me that many Chinese like to eat placenta because they heard it is good for their complexion.

Other stories, they told me: They have heard that if you use a mobile phone, you should use your left ear, not your right; Girls would not use the bathroom at school dorms at midnight because of a belief that they would be killed at that time; and Chinese scientists have argued about whether the Americans in fact landed on the moon.

The wife has forced me to take a late night shower.

I can get by happily with a 25 rmb a week allowance from my wife. Let all Chinese wives with foreign husbands know this. If any Chinese wives of Foreigners are reading this, pass it on to the other wives. Please.

David Warren says Canada has elected an Obama as Prime Minister already. His name was Pierre Trudeau. Someone I know who tried to defend Trudeau did so by saying he had a vision. All I can say to that is so did Hitler and Lenin. Warren does hold some hope that maybe Obama will miraculously become another Ronald Reagan. Reading Audacity of Hope, I don't think Obama recognized what Reagan was about, at all. Obama did not mention Reagan's role in winning the Cold War.

Busy Tuesday. Jenny and Tony are back!

  • A busy Tuesday for me. I had to make sure the apartment was all clean and organized for my wife who was to come back from Beixing today. I made sure everything was in its place. I washed all the dishes. At school, they have my head spinning with all sorts of things that a head trainer has to deal with. But is it what a day at AKIC is all about.
  • My wife and son are back. She was a little tense when I phoned her this afternoon. She was waiting for the bus, and Tony, she told me, was being "too clever". She is back home now and she reported that Tony was reacquainting himself with his toys.
  • It is cold at school. I think I will be wearing a knit cap (a toque in Canada speak) on my ride to and from work.
  • My last indulgence before my wife and son came back, was to put on a Frank Sinatra DVD in which he performed "My Way", "Fly me to the Moon" (in honour of the Astronauts who had recently landed on the moon), and "Chicago". Frank also discussed his movie career. Bing Crosby punched him the first time they met, he said jokingly. I think I will remember these lyrics: "I didn't sleep at well last night. Because we had the silly fight. I had to phone this morning to seeeee if you were all right."
  • If there are spaces between some of the points and not the others, it is because I saved this blog as a draft and came back to it five minutes later.
  • I have to write everything down now and refer to it every hour. Too many people asking me if I remembered to do something. (*Never mind!*)
  • Some Americans in Wuxi have told me that as far as the Economic Crisis goes, the worse is yet to come. Which has me wondering if Frank sang "The Best is yet to come" in the DVD I watched this morning.
  • Strange thing I have seen. This man has terrible English. Yet, he likes to listen in on foreign conversations.
  • My numbers for this blog for November 2008 have already exceeded those of November 2007.
  • I will be showing students some purported photos of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot tonight. I hope their reactions are interesting.
  • Memo to myself: drive more carefully. I have had too many close calls this past week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day: Lest We Forget

I was hoping I could cut and paste the poem "In Flanders Field" here, but it can be done. You can read the poem here.

As it is, I will write a confession about a past Remembrance Day which haunts me because it shames me. It happened when I was with the 26 Field Regiment in Brandon, Manitoba sometimes in the 1980s.

At the time, I was with the Regiment, I really didn't want to be there. I was there because father put me there and I didn't know what I would have done with myself anyway. I had a vague desire to be more bohemian or something. So my attitude to being in the Militia was a strange one, an immature contempt borne out of my weakness.

This immaturity was on display for all to see when the Regiment went to the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium for a Remembrance Day ceremony. I mocked the ceremony and the participants throughout. One of my officers saw me and gave me a chiding. But I took it a manner of not someone who deserved a kick-in-the-ass but of a victim with his existential angst added to.

I should have gone home that day but I continued on in the festivities. After the ceremony on Remembrance day, members of the military and veterans will go on to a local legion to drink and reminisce. I told everyone of my chiding and acted the victim. At the legion, there was a band playing old time music. For there were actual war veterans. I even danced along in the music but thinking it square. And irony of ironies, an old woman thanked me for liking the music. Then, I drove around drunk and rear-ended a car on the Brandon's 18th street bridge. The driver I rear-ended didn't stop and I laughed like I was the luckiest man in the world.

Strange now, how I like the music and respect the military. But when I was young, I didn't. The Officer, a Mr. George, I should thank for the chiding. I should apologize to the veterans whose memory I desecrated that day with my behavior.

Shame on me.

Lest We Forget.
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Random Thoughts or Vegetates

  • The guards at the gate of our apartment complex are amused whenever they see me arrive on my electric bike. I must be quite the site: a long beanpole on a scooter.
  • This afternoon, I watched the David Lean directed Summer Time starring Katherine Hepburn. It was wonderfully shot. The credits were the most interesting I have ever seen in a movie: you had the feeling that Vincent Van Gogh had designed them. Venice was shown to perfection. Too bad, the story was dull. But I want to go to Venice.
  • As I said in the previous entry, I went shopping Monday afternoon. I bought two Dr. Seuss books for Tony at Xinhua book store. I spent twenty minutes looking for the volumes which I had seen on a previous visit there. But Xinhua seems to move its stock about instead of updating it. I bought Dr. Seuss's ABC and If I Ran the Circus. The volumes are meant for Chinese readers but contain English. T is for ten tired turtles on a tuttle-tuttle tree.
  • My electric bike hit a car or rather glanced it. If you see the video Wuxi Tony Update Knot, you will see the damage done. What happened was I misjudged a Mazda that was turning and cutting me off. The cutting me off made me want to strike the car in some way. I hope the driver hurt the thud of impact. No one was hurt. There is a scratch on my bike and hopefully a scratch on the corner of the Mazda.
  • My wife tells me that it is cold in the countryside. While it is not so cold in the city. Is this because of global warming? I should think not.
  • Controversy causes spikes in my visitor stats. I am now getting numbers on this blog to rival my other blog. Come here for your daily dish of dirt. He he he. Wo shi agent provocateur
  • I also went shopping today at the Baoli Carrefour. I bought food I needed for me. And I didn't buy that much and I blew my budget. While I will be happy to see my wife and son tomorrow, I hope the wife don't broach the subject of how much I spent. Sheesh. And the urges that I didn't gave into while I was at Baoli won't get me any credit. That is, I didn't go to any restaurants.
  • I will be happy when this period of self-indulgence is over. The guilt is taking the fun out of it.
  • I am trying to figure out what the hell the maid was trying to tell me this morning. She was in the kitchen when she talked. I must have done something in the kitchen that went against all her assumptions. I know when I get through with the kitchen, my wife gets irate. Maybe, the maid didn't like my making popcorn the old fashioned way with cooking oil and a wok.
  • I have just finished watching my second David Lean film tonight, Great Expectations, based on the novel by Dickens that I have here in Hui Shan but haven't got around to reading yet. The movie was terrific. It was great to see a young Alec Guiness, aka Obi Wan aka Prince Feisal. I will still read the novel, one day. But I first have to finish the Obama tome.

Parking My Electric Bicycle

I went shopping today which I will discuss in my nightly blog entry. Taking my bike shopping poses some problems as these photos below will show.

I have find a place to put my newly-purchased goods on the bike. Thankfully, it has a hook on the steering column on which I can hang or attach a bag, as I have done below.

But the bigger problem is parking. As you can see below, the bicycle parking area outside the Baoli shopping mall in Wuxi, China is packed to the gills. One wonders how some one can ever find their bike after having parked it there. Luckily, my bike came with a remote with a locator button.

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Wuxi China Electric Bike Update or Wuxi Tony Update Knot

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Too many days off.

This is my second day off in a row. I haven't had this for a while and now that I do, I feel strange. What am I going to do today? Having no child and wife around, time is very empty for me. I wondered how I got through all those years before when I was single. (Truth is, I just barely survived the long stretches of having nothing to do and no responsibility.) And now, that I have all this free time to blog, I notice I had better ideas for what to write about when the time I had for blogging was limited.

But I will get through somehow.

The movie Laura which I watched last night did in fact have the music for the song Laura that Sinatra sung. The tune played through out the movie, although the lyrics were never sung. The movie was a one time watch. The movie's flaws included some hamy acting and a need for the script writers to have the audience be told everything instead letting them figure things out for themselves.

The movie Laura was directed by Otto Preminger, meaning that I watched two Preminger-directed movies yesterday (I also saw Anatomy of a Murder).

Today, I will watch two David Lean directed movies: Great Expectations and Summer Time.

I have read the first chapter of Obama's Audacity of Hope. He paints his political activity in an idealistic light, makes reference to real-life issues, and then laments the wrangling over them. His solution is to be above it. Or so it seems. So, I would say the book is not so illuminating so far.

Obama writes of the need for a new kind of politics. How about, a debate on what Government can and cannot do? What I mean is, politics is about acquiring power. You can't escape the fact the politicians have to get power. And getting power can be a dirty business. The best you can hope for is that the people know this and so judge accordingly. Obama should just lay it on the table and tell the voter that this is how it is, and not try to be above it all as he is in the book. He should point out that as long as people don't come to blows, anything goes in political fights. The people have to be tougher and suspicious, because they ultimately get the politics they deserve. And the government they deserve too.

Obama says politics are more divisive than ever before. I have to disagree with this assertion. I think it has been divisive always. If anything, there is more of a blanket-headedness to not realize this.

There is a chilly air in the apartment this morning which accounts for why I overslept, and awoke feeling groggy and like having a hangover. The apartments in Wuxi are made of brick and are not insulated. There is no central heating so heat is provided by air conditioner units. I don't have the a/c machines set to provide heat yet. Or rather, I should say the wife hasn't.

My sister sends me an email telling me that a collection agency is looking for me. The reason being medical insurance. Living in China, I just let the insurance I have expire. I never gave it much thought. But the email has me wondering what my status with the governments of Canada is since I have not filed taxes (I pay in China). And in B.C., you did have to make monthly payments into the free system. I stopped doing so when I came to China.

This afternoon, I shall ride to Downtown. I am thinking I will do some shopping in the Baoli Carrefour. I will buy a bag of things I need for the week.

With the wife away, I was able to do some cooking. I didn't make anything special. With all these things I wanted to do, I couldn't devote myself exclusively to doing one thing very well. And being in China and in the suburbs, I find that I am always missing essential ingredients that I need to make something. For example, if I want to make a sauce I need milk which is never easy to come by and now is forever tainted.

Wuxi Tony Update Not: No Baby So Andis Shows You Some DVDs

I made a vlog entry even though I have no baby to use as a prop for the video.

White the Wife and Son are away....

Jenny and Tony will be back on Tuesday. Jenny tells me Tony is not used to her parents' place out in the Beixing (near Taixing) countryside. I asked if he wasn't eating but she told me that wasn't the problem. I will find out when they get back, I presume.

Wuxi Tony Update Not is being uploaded as I type this entry.

As soon as the maid left, I went to downtown Wuxi. I took the electric bike because it looked to be a nice day.

But before heading downtown, I made a quick trip to the bridge afar that I mentioned in a previous entry. I took photos which you can see here. It turned out that the bridge was more interesting to visit at night. The other bridge in Hui Shan, which I cross all the time, is much more interesting. But, I did have the experience today of taking my electric bike up and down 100 feet of ramp at the bridge. As I got to the bottom, the bike was pulling me. Taking the ramp up, I used the bike's power to go up but found I was giving the accelerator a little too much power.

Near the bridge is the White House which you can see in the previous entry. There is a dilapidated shack near the White House that can make for a great photo if you can get both buildings together in an image. As it was from the road, the White House and the shack were too far apart. I am thinking of venturing into the field where the shack is located to get this shot but there is a bog there.

Downtown, I had to quickly drop into school to pick up the recharger for my mobile phone. I wish I hadn't even dropped in. More things to deal with when I come back on Tuesday. But on the bright side, I did receive a package from my parents in Canada. They sent me The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. Now, I know that my very rare readers will wonder why I, after having nothing good to say about Obama, would want to read his book. I have heard thatit is well-written and the source for many Obama believer's enthusiasm. I hope maybe the books can provide some understanding.

From the school, I went to Nanchang Temple market and to my favourite DVD bin in the city. If you see Wuxi Tony Update Not, you will see the DVDs I bought but I will list them here. I got: Shall We Dance with Astaire and Rogers; Laura starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews; Summertime directed by David Lean; David Lean's Great Expectations; Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire; The Ladykillers starring Alec Guiness; Petrified Forest Starring Leslie Howard and Bette Davis; The Wizard of OZ; Sherlock Holmes' The Women in Green Starring Basil Rathbone; Going My Way starring Bing Crosby; Back to Bataan starring John Wayne; and The Man in The White Suit starring Alec Guiness.

After the DVD purchases, I went to Parksons and the Baoli Carrefour. As it turned out the purchases I made at Parksons, should have been made at the Carrefour. I originally had not planned to go to Carrefour, it being Sunday and so probably packed to the gills with shoppers, but I needed picture hooks and I could not find them at HOLA, aka the House of Living Art. Carrefour seems to be the place to get most of the things I need for the household. I was even able to buy a hammer there to put the hooks into the concrete walls with. And now that I have a wife and a son and a hammer, I can claim to be a real man. No more is Andis a Wussie Expat.

I needed the hooks and hammers to put up Tony's one year birthday portrait. You will see the portrait when you watch Wuxi Tony Update Not. I remember someone at work criticizing the portrait saying that when Tony gets older he will hate his parents for having had it on the wall for so many years, and so embarrassing him. I think that opinion was harsh and immature. I find myself wondering how I looked in nude at Tony's age. And so, I envy Tony for having the portrait. Some people have to be parents or in positions of responsibility before they can truly understand.

Because of the rift between the wives Drummond and Kaulins, I couldn't borrow the Drummond hammer and hooks. Shame.

From Carrefour, I rode back home around 230 PM. Though it was sunny, it wasn't very warm. And the wind was fierce. I could feel my long frame and baggy clothes being a drag on the electric bike as I rode into the wind.

Before I went home, I drove to the Yangqiao vegetable market where I got three medium-sized potatoes and a small onion for 2.3 rmb. I don't think they ripped me off. But I will have to ask my wife first before I can say for certain.

Back at home, I have watched two DVDs so far. I first watched Anatomy of a Murder starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by Otto Preminger. The movie had all the elements to be great for it had Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, and the sexy Lee Remnick starring in it, and music by Count Basie. But it had a few failed performances including the actors portraying the Judge and the D.A. I then watched Shall We Dance with Rogers and Astaire. The movie follows the same formula as the others Roger-Astaire movies I have seen, but it is a formula I can't get enough of. I love the music, the humour, and the performances of the co-stars including Astaire's bumbling sidekick and the British butler. Fred Astaire is an aristocrat - that is the best description I can come across to convey the star quality he had.

After I publish this entry, I will watch the Laura DVD I just bought today. I wonder if I will that song that Frank Sinatra does. "Laura is the face is the misty light....."

I wll then go to sleep with the Obama book.

Obama's New Home?

This is the called the White House by the locals in Hui Shan. I believe it is a Court House. It is definitely a fancy-looking building on the outskirts of town.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sunday Morning.

I am up early. I couldn't sleep in if I wanted to. I have a few things I want to do today but I can't decide what I will do and when I will do it. I have a back log of unwatched DVDs to watch but I can't decide what to watch first.

Last night, I did watch the entirety of The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford. It is a film set in Ireland and contains all the elements you would expect. The Quiet Man has priests, Irish songs, pubs, countryside, and greenery. It also has lots of drinking and fighting. The film ends in a brawl which brings peace to Innisfree even as the fists keep flying. Wondering why the film hasn't stood the test of time, I suppose it could be because John Wayne smokes through out the movie and the priests are depicted as worldly and kind: things you wouldn't dare show in a movie today.

Today, I may watch Anatomy of a Murder starring Jimmy Stewart and directed by Otto Preminger. I recently saw Stewart in the Spirit of St. Louis. I also may watch the fourth and fifth seasons of the Wire if I can pull myself away from the computer long enough to do so.

On the way home last night, I did ride to the bridge I had seen from off in the distance. I hope I can visit it today in the daylight. The bridge looks swanky enough with railings, smoothly paved roadway, and a great set of stairs for pedestrians. But it has a bridge built in the middle of nowhere feel to it. And I don't see why pedestrians would be walking in the area anyway.

I have to go downtown to get my phone charger. It is just my luck that I can't seem to get away from work. But I will check my bag now and see if I maybe, after a bit of rare foresight, put the charger there in.

No, I didn't.

Fari quae sentiat. This is Latin. In English, this means to say what one feels. I was listening to the latest episode of Radio Derb and he said that the latest fashion in Political Correctness is to banish Latin expressions because they are discriminatory to someone. I will use them whenever I feel like it. (I was going to say when I have the opportunity, but I am in China.) Derb also said that politics takes up too much time of the average citizen's time in America. Obsessing over the 2010 election has begun in earnest, he observed. In an ideal world, we would not be overly concerning ourselves about elections. We would be choosing the wisest of men to be our representatives and these pols wouldn't be filled with any grand notions that inflame the mob and bother the others who don't want to be left alone. So limited would be their power that only those who have a sense of duty would do it; not the fame seeking, power hungry, and money-grubbing bunch that seem to be elected these days.

But it is not an ideal world. dum vitant stuli vitia in contraria current. In shunning one kind of vice, fools run to the opposite extreme. libido dominator. The passions have gained control.

Now, I wait for the maid to do her thing. Yes, we have a maid. She comes in the morning every second day to clean the apartment for two hours. We give her 300 rmb a month. I suggested the wife hire because she is so busy with Tony. She speaks China in a Wuxi way and I find it impossible to understand her. I can't even make out the personal pronouns when she speaks.

I am taking the Latin expressions from some Latin books I brought with me from Canada.

If you have followed this blog entry this far, you may be asking yourself if Andis eats and if he has anything to do outside of the school and the apartment. You may also have noticed I don't seem to have other people enter this blog, at least on a personal level, excepting my wife and son. So, the answer to both questions is no. I don't eat much and I keep to myself more than ever.

It is sunny out this morning and with a cold crisp feeling in the air. A good day to go for a ride and take some photos. My digital camera is recharging as I type.

I am also thinking I will go to Nanchang temple, a market in Downtown Wuxi, and look at the old movie bin again. I hope I can find more Fred Astaire movies. More than ever, it is time to escape the here and now, and go to a place that doesn't exist and is somehow fancy filled.

Looking out of the window of AKIC blogging central, I see decoration is proceeding on a few apartments across the lane from us. If this complex was ever fully occupied, there would be no sense of privacy here. Fifteen or so apartments look right into this room.

I am getting updates from my wife. So far, Tony is occupying himself by pressing the buttons on the phone by which she talks to me.

I sprayed some WD40 on my electric bicycle last night. Two locks were becoming stiff and hard for me to open smoothly. It was the first time I have gotten my hands smelly with oil for years. It may seem strange to say but I have this notion that somehow because I am in a foreign country, I can't be doing dirty work. I would be stealing some one's rice bowl, as the expression goes, and China does not need foreign labourers.

The maid is asking me something about Tony but I don't know what. Ting bu Dong! I say.

In Canada, the Saskatchewan Roughriders won't win the Grey Cup this year. They were trounced in the Western semifinal game today by the British Columbia Lions.

Titles of books on the shelf above my keyboard: Great Expectations, The complete short stories of Evelyn Waugh, a brief history of the Boxer Rebellion, The Iliad, Zen stories, The Analects, Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard, With Charity Toward None by Florence King, Call to Arms by Lu Xun, The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims by Arthur Schopenhauer, The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, Collected Poems of TS Eliot, and On a Chinese Screen by Sommerset Maugham, to name a few.

I am not feeling fully engaged as you can tell if you have followed this blog entry this far.

What does Obama mean by change? Is change, in this context, just a code word for revolution?

George Bush was a centrist politician little different in views from John McCain. When the left praises John McCain, as they did over a year ago, their hatred of George Bush seemed all the more inexplicable. They are probably mad at George Bush for being a Christian from Texas and being idealistic, and thus stealing the idealism mantle they thought belong exclusively to them. But the Left also wanted their idealism on the cheap without having to make war. And so they have to hate Bush intensely instead of having to deal with the implications of what Bush's foreign adventures have shown - the world is not one and parts of it intensely hate what they stand for, and not just Bush.

For all this talk about Bush being evil and authoritarian, he never fights back against his critics. Some of them don't deserve any response, because they are utterly classless. But some did, especially some of the intelligent critics on the right. Bush made it easy for his haters to have the day because he ultimately so passive.