Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update 257: Happy New Year with the Wizard of Oz!

You can also see the place where the black cars go.

Predictions and Resolutions for 2009.

I was at up at seven a.m. this morning (it being January 1). I should sleep longer but I just can't. And that I am up so early is a good thing because this will be a year of early risings and no sleeping-in. So I should resolve to continue my good habits while discontinuing the bad.

I resolve to more optimistic in the face of the everything and everybody saying I shouldn't be.

I resolve to be let the world know more of what I think, while keeping in mind that some things should not be said. That I let too many stupid things said to me go unchallenged is what I have in mind as I make this resolution. The policy of not naming names to protect the guilty, which I have only violated once in 2008, will continue except in a Mitch Miller situation where what the guilty have done is unforgivable. I love the story of Frank Sinatra running into Mitch Miller at an airport and telling him to keep on walking. Sinatra could never forgive Miller's bad musical judgement on a television show that they had done together and which was Sinatra's career low point. I should love what Christopher Hitchens did to this crowd of Bush-hating morons. The Bush has a low i.q. joke is a joke that stupid people can laugh at.

One of the lessons I learned in 2008 in a stark way was that some people won't change. People are often bad and can't be changed.

2009 will be a year of austerity for the family K. The plan to go to Canada will have to be put on the shelf for another year because we just can't afford it. The decision to not go will take some financial pressure off us.

What kind of year China will have is an interesting question. I don't see a peasant revolution happening where foreigners have to flee China for their lives. I see the Chinese trying to get ahead in the system as it is. There isn't enough disgruntlement yet or will ever be. China is like Mexico, an inefficient state full of corruption, always teetering, but never collapsing.

The world economy will see inflation.

U.S. politics will be sickening to watch. Despite some of Obama's centrist appointments, his administration will still be a ship of fools. The big 0's team seems determined to do something about Global Warming and to bring about socialized medicine.

Don't ask me the who, where, and how of it, but I predict that sometime in 2009, I will get in a fist fight. I know this conflicts with my desire to adopt the creed that says turn the other cheek, but as I have said there are bad people about who have to be fought. I also have a temper that I can't control if I am feeling just tired and annoyed enough.

Stephen Harper will still be Canadian Prime Minister at the end of 2009. The Liberals will back out of their marriage of convenience with the Separatists and hard-left Socialists.

Tony's first word will be Chinese.

in 2009, the wife and I will have one hundred fights in which I back down ninety nine times.

Mrs. Drummond and Mrs. Kaulins won't talk to each other for the whole year.

The Montreal Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup in 2009. I have no reason on which to base this prediction. I haven't looked at the National Hockey League standings for months. So this prediction is just a hope.

The wife changed her mind about today. In the last entry, I reported that she wanted to have her hair done. She now wishes to stay home and save money.

Tony and the wife are still sleeping as I type this entry. The maid is doing her thing.

I will make WTU 257, the first WTU of 2009 this afternoon.

Happy New Year!

Wuxi Tony Update #256: Tony asleep on the streets of Wuxi.

The last WTU of 2008!

First plans for 2009. 2008 reflections #2

The Chinese don't celebrate Western New Year's Eve. For them, their Spring Festival slash Chinese New Year is more important. My survey of the students indicates that most Chinese won't stay up to mark the end of 2008 and the start of 2009.

Wuxi Expats will be celebrating. The odd few like me won't be. My wife being Chinese, my son being 16 months old, and the logistics of going to parties downtown while I live in the burbs, with no car, mean I am at my apartment blogging the final moments of 2008 away. It is all for the best. I will be blogging away at midnight (which is now 45 minutes away).

My wife has already determined my first plans for 2009. In the afternoon, I will be looking after Tony while she gets a new hairdo.

I was thinking about who was the person of 2008 and I will have to second David Warren's choice: Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. She annoyed the right people. Palin is a decent woman who worked herself into her position. She had more experience than all the other candidates on the two major party tickets. She was also the only one of the four who could claim to have actually performed a productive day of work before. The hatred that the left had for Palin could have best been directed towards real bad people like Chavez, Al Franken, and many of Obama's old associates. But we don't live in a perfect world but any stretch of the imagination.

Obama doesn't get any consideration as man of the year for 2008 since his election was essentially affirmative action on masse anyway.

Bernard Madoff doesn't deserve any consideration either.

Someone is blowing off firecrackers to mark the beginning of 2009!

So ends what was an interesting year for China. 2008 for China saw a snow storm, a revealing to its' citizens that the world didn't like its government, a major earthquake, the Olympics, and the Financial Crisis.

Double Trouble.

Which Tony is real? What Tony is a reflection?
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #255: The last WTU of 2008?

Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. On the morning of December 31st, I am getting ready to go to downtown Wuxi. I will meet the wife and son at a Japanese restaurant. After that we may do some shopping. I may take WTU 256 then.

This evening, I will teach three classes so I may not be able to upload the video till after midnight.

A photo

This blog needs a photo every once in a while to break up the monotomy of my prose stylings. Above, you can see Public Works in action. Unfortunately the photo cannot convey the seedy abandonment of a public project that was build under the assumption that people would come.
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The Derb and Seablogger on Faith.

Two of my favorite writers and opinionizers are the Derb (John Derbyshire) and Seablogger (Alan Sullivan). Both are conservative, though the Derb is more a paleocon and his position on the Iraqi War was that Bush was right to get rid of Saddam, but that the occupation was a waste of time. Seablogger is more libertarian and he decries Bush's compassionate conservatism but supports the Iraq War. Anyway, I am always interested to hear their take on events and I will agree with them at least 95 percent of the time.

Their views on religion and faith interest me extremely. Here are the Derb's. And here are the latest musings from Seablogger. One link chronicles a loss of faith though not a profession of atheism; the other is maybe the gaining of. Both entries have things to say about evolution. To the Derb, evolution is an established fact. To David Warren (quoted in Seablogger), evolution is a plausible idea, but the idea of God is more plausible.

What influence do their views about faith and religion have on my mine? They both agree with mine in a way that I can reconcile though I don't know if I can adequately explain how to you. There is a paradox in existence that both articulate. The question of whether the resurrection really happened is one that I wish I could answer in the affirmative but can't confidently. But the secularist humanist view is not satisfying to me either emotionally or intellectually. Religion answers a human need in a secular manner so that I can never be a militant atheist. But religion stripped of having some basis in truth is weak gruel indeed. It would make more sense if it were true, which is a trite thing to say, but the trite can having meaning. And there lies the paradox which explains why I am sympathetic to both positions.

I am for practical purposes like the Derb wishing I can make the Seablogger leap.

2008: the year that was #1

There is no way, I am going to be able to make a magnum opus kind of blog entry about 2008. I will just have to provide you some reflections piecemeal as time allows me and my inclinations push me.
Seeing Tony grow is the highlight of my 2008. I could and have written reams about it.

Another other highlight was the family K move to Hui Shan or Yangqiao, forty minutes from the downtown of Wuxi.
Moving to Yangqiao has seen my life take on an isolated course this year. No longer will I be able to go to the downtown Wuxi Expat haunts very often. The commute takes an hour out of my day. There is no one else out here we can talk to.
My wife and I do wonder if it was such a great idea to come out here. But we made the commitment and there seems to be no question of escaping it.
I was never completely enthusiastic about moving here but did it to make the wife happy. I was somehow expecting the move to blow up in my face.
And it has though not the way I could have foreseen. But is seems so clear now in retrospective. Since it was staring me right in my face but I choose to ignore it. Riding on others' coat tails as we did when we moved here but bound to come to grief sooner or later.
I had figured that the whole public work's aspect of the area where we now live was a signal of its doom, but that just hasn't happened yet - the things we have to look forward to!
I can say that having the electric bike is an experience that I glad to have - it has given me a new perspective on living in China, so there is one good thing I can say about being out here.

I have one over on my wife.

The wife phoned me this morning at about eight a.m because she couldn't find her keys. In a very frustrated voice, she told me that she had been looking over half-a-hour for them. I told her I didn't have them and hung up. It immediately got me to thinking. For some reason, the door when locked from the outside cannot be opened from the inside without the key. My wife, if she didn't find the keys, would be stuck in the apartment for over 12 hours because I wasn't going to be able to get back home till ten p.m. Tony was clearly the culprit since he likes to play with keys and stick them in things in hopes of being able to open them. I thought to ask the wife if she looked around our water machine because I had seen Tony try to open it with keys.

Asking this question was risky. Nothing can be more annoying to someone who has misplaced something than to ask them if they left it in the usual place. And my wife is not one to be treated lightly with when in a bad mood. But I risked it.

When I phoned her, she answered with a gruff "What?!?", I then asked her if she looked around the water machine.

She did and she found the key, quickly hanging up. I phoned her four hours later to crow about it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Making of a Peasant Doctor by Yang Hsiao

I found a choice novel of interest published in Peking in 1976 at one of the used-bookstalls in Wuxi, China's Nanchang Market. Entitled, The Making of a Peasant Doctor, the novel written by Yang Hsiao, is pure Communist propaganda. Here are some choice passages I have come across in my cursory reading today:

Here as elsewhere, the countryside seethes with activity as men and women, old and young, grasp revolution and promote production. An invigorating revolutionary atmosphere prevails.

Chairman Mao has taught us: It is necessary to sum up experience conscientiously.

That was what the party secretary was like, for he first thought of the collective and the country, and never of himself.

The novel is unintentionally hilarious. I will have a joyful time reading it. The English is suprisingly well-done. But I have been told that in those times to make a mistake in English was to invite severe punishment.

I was able to get the book for 28 rmb. The original asking price was 30 but the lady was a hard bargainer and she gave me two rmb off out of sympathy.

ATM takes my card.

An ATM took my bank card this morning. It was nothing I did. I was waiting for it to allow me to enter my password but it instead told me that it could not eject my card, which was strange. The bank machine then became unavailable, as did my card. I had to rush into the bank waving and gesticulating because I was a foreigner to get them to understand my quandary. I eventually had to get them to talk to my wife on my mobile to straighten out the situation. My wife would have to pick up the card herself because it was hers and I had no i.d. They told my wife that I had been too slow entering things into the machine which was complete b.s. There was something wrong with the machine.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #254: Fast Talking Papa and Milk-sipping Son

Do you have the stamina to watch all the WTUs?

I got a seat! and so on.

I got a seat! I got a seat! I got a seat on the bus home tonight. I was able to finish reading a Louis L'Amour short story and leaf through a Pinyin-English Chinese phrasebook about leisure activities. When I looked up after the reading, I didn't quite know where I was.

I forget to mention that a lady did elbow me as I got on the bus.

I am trying to upload WTU 254. The first effort was a failure so try again.

Tony is not eating today but he is drinking.

What does this acronym mean? w.y.b.m.a.d.i.i.t.y. Would you buy me a drink if I told you?

George Bush is winning the war on terror. People on the left don't like the idea of a White Christian man liberating people. It is not supposed to happen. It conflicts with their world view.

Global Warming is a scam. I remember someone telling how great Al Gore's movie was and how America was the biggest cause of Global Warming. The blame America aspect of the film appealed to this person. Then, they gave Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize and had to employ circumlocutions and twists in logic to justify it. But my suspicions were aroused years earlier when I saw an article in a Vancouver, B.C. newspaper featuring a man standing on a beach there predicting the water would soon be ten feet higher. This nut was like the men predicting the end of the world.

Another night of hot pot. I got to use the bathroom.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Will I get a seat on the bus?

I take the #25 bus home when I am not riding the electric bike. Today, I will take the bus home. Since the ride is so long (40 minutes), it makes a big difference whether I get a seat or not. Since my school is near the start of the the #25 route, I stand a good chance of getting a seat. However, waiting for the bus is tension-filled. If I go to the Bus terminal (the first stop instead of the second stop nearer my school), a crowd gathers that is jockeying for position so as to get on the bus quickly enough to get a seat. I hate it. You hate the sight of every person who comes to wait for the bus. You wish they would go away. And when the bus comes, you are physically fighting to get on the bus. Old countryside women will block you and bud in front of you to get on sooner.

Rain in Wuxi. Why?

It doesn't seem right to my Canadian way of thinking that there should be rain in Wuxi in December. I have a parka and gloves and scarf on these days, and to wear them in the rain like I did this morning was a first time experience.

Wuxi Tony Update #253: Tony is drunk!

That is what the wife claims as Tony drank some pineapple beer Saturday Night.

Am I a bastard or what?

  • Sometimes I wonder. But all I have to do is interact with other people, and I see that I am small potatoes.
  • I give Tony some M&Ms. He then puts them in my mouth.
  • The wife is all excited because she made hot pot at home this evening. I don't mind hot pot though I will always remember some Brit saying how unhygienic it was to eat, what with everyone sharing and all. I think it is great if you give everyone their own individual pot and the choicest selection of meats and veggies with peanut or curry sauces.
  • Concrete, Dirt, Garbage, People, drabness.... That is the panorama that passes you when you are looking out the window of a public bus in Wuxi.
  • The students thought the film the Naked Gun was just too silly.
  • What will Wuxi Expats be doing for New Year's Eve? I imagine they will be going to one or more of the Expat pubs in town. My source presumes that afterwards, many of them will get laid. AKIC will spend the evening at work and on his electric bicycle as he returns home.
  • Be not afraid WTU freaks! WTU 253 is being uploaded as I make this entry.
  • I wonder if I will be here when the dynasty falls. It is something I think about as I go to work. Will these people get angry?
  • Will the Middle classes revolt? That is the question.
  • But then maybe this place is Mexico with Chinese people. That is, it is a nation tottering along, the ruling party keeping its grip on power.
  • Somebody must have moved into their apartment. Fireworks have been launched in the complex.
  • Never buy DVDs of recent movies here in Wuxi. The chances are that most of them don't work. This one shop near the school has sold me three bad DVDs. I paid for only one but I have been making trips to exchange the DVDs.
  • I should be working on a highlight and low lights for AKIC 2008 entry. My personal highlight has been watching Tony develop through the year. The low light was the split between the Kaulins and Drummond families -inevitable in retrospect. In the great big world, there wasn't much good. The presidential election, though historical, was a match up of mediocrities. The economic slump that was inevitable may last longer than necessary in 2009 and beyond because of government intervention and stupid green social engineering.
  • The school attracts its' share of local weirdos who like to hang out at the school but don't seem to be interested in learning English. And like cockroaches, they just won't go away.
  • Tony likes to take empty cups and cans, and go through the action of drinking from them.
  • Tony just broke the cup he was drinking from that inspired me to make the last entry.
  • This happens a lot on local buses: A passenger not realizing quickly enough that his or her stop has come up, has to run to the back of the bus and scream at the driver to let them off. In the dark, I have seen shouting matches between passengers and the driver because the passengers are even more dopey.
  • The wife has visitors from a nearby apartment. So I will sign off.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Second best month for numbers.

This blog, this month, already has it second best monthly numbers for visits and page views ever. Thank you, rare readers and passers-by. The question now is can we beat November's numbers which have been the best to date?

Talking to a class about culture this morning, and one student talking about Chinese Culture, said he didn't like the politics of it. He later added that most cultures in the world were better than the Chinese because they had political freedom. A brave thing to say. I could only acknowledge what he said.

Tony gives me an orange.

I know that this is really only something a parent can take joy in and to report it in a blog is a bore to everyone else, but I will report it anyway: When I got home last night, Tony greeted me with an orange which I willingly accepted and ate. A giving Tony makes me proud.

I was dressed for a cold ride home last evening. But as soon as I got outside, I noticed a slight drizzle. It wasn't as cold as I was expecting, alas.

Public Works Projects. Other Wuxi Expat Christmases.

I am living in a huge Public Works project here in the Hui Shan Economic Development Zone of Wuxi, China. There are more public buildings here than you can shake a stick at. Walking with Tony after I took WTU 252, I must have counted five government buildings all over ten floors high on a street that I had not previously wandered, and yet was but a block from the Casa Kaulins.

I wonder who uses those buildings. Does each government official have an apartment 100 square meters in area? As I passed a five storey building with an area of at least 5,000 completely unoccupied square meters, I realized that most of what I had seen was for show - a show of the grandeur of the state. Near the unused building, most construction was taking place.

What were other Wuxi expats doing on Christmas Day? Unlike me, some went to hang out with other expats. Some of them went to the Provence Restaurant where the owner of the Blue Bar had arranged a nice spread, 250 rmb a head, for all who attended. My source also told me that most of the expats who went probably also got laid later that evening. I was told by one of the people who helped open the Provence that it was a great restaurant. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to try the place out.

Wuxi Tony Update #252: Christmas Day in a Public Square.

Here is all I did on Christmas day, other than finish reading Congo by Micheal Crichton - an okay but flawed novel.

Wuxi Tony Update #251: See downtown Wuxi, China!

On December 24th, the K family wandered around the downtown of Wuxi. You can join them for part of the journey by watching this video.

Virus. Chinese Army to attack Somali Pirates?

I had a virus on my work computer. I had to wait two hours for my anti-virus software to scan my hard drives. It was two hours lost. All I needed to do today, I needed files on my computer for.

I went to bed early last night. I felt tired. I still have that feeling of exhaustion today.

One student was excited to tell me that the Chinese Army was going to Somalia to attack pirates. I should look on the Internet to see what he truly meant.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wuxi, China Building fattens out.

Watch the brown building on the left.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas morning in Wuxi.

There is no tree and presents at the Casa Kaulins here in the Huishan Economic Development Zone of Wuxi, China. There is Christmas music. (The Reader's Digest Christmas music compilation my parents sent me a few years comes in very handy this time of the year). Tony was up. Holding him in my arms, swaying as we listened to Christmas music (Ella and Bing singing about the birth of a child) put him to sleep. That simple thing makes Christmas all worth it. The elaborate planning will happen one day but having my son fall asleep in my arms is all I need for this Christmas to be worthwhile

What Christmas means to me.

What does Christmas mean to me? The question arose when I made a little speech about Christmas to some Chinese students on Tuesday. I told them that Christmas has many meanings for Westerners and that it has had many meanings for me.

In China, I have come to the realization that I am uniquely unqualified to be doing a lecture about Christmas traditions. For in fact, most of my adult life, I haven't practiced the traditions at all. Having Tony now, I will have to try to practice them, but it will have to be without the benefit of having had much practice. And this year, because Tony is so young and because of our finances, I can put off the attempt for another year.

But that won't stop me from blogging about it. This is the speech I made about Christmas to the students.

Christmas is the most important Western holiday. If you ask a Westerner what Christmas means to them, you will get many different answers.

The most basic view, they will have depends on whether they see Christmas with Santa Claus or Jesus Christ in mind. The Westerners who have given up on the religion of course think of Santa Claus. Westerners, who still profess to be Christians, think of Jesus. The split over these conceptions of Christmas can explain a lot about the cultural conflicts that now grip the West. The Santa Claus faction seems to have the upper hand these days. In fact, there is a movement afoot among them to ban all mention of Jesus altogether from what now is a "holiday" tradition.
I have been a participant in the Santa Claus faction, but my mind and heart resides in the Jesus faction. To ban Jesus from Christmas seems suicidal from a cultural point of view. The stories so define who Westerners are even if they are not religious.

Christmas, despite becoming more secular, still has a personal meaning for almost all Westerners. How you are feeling on Christmas Day says a lot about who you are.

When I was young, Christmas was about getting presents. The anticipation the evening before and the opening of presents on the morning of the 25th are great memories for me.

As I entered adulthood, Christmas became an ordeal. Not certain of where I was going and what I wanted to be, to go home for Christmas in small town, small potatoes, Brandon, Manitoba seemed a come down.

The ten years I spent in British Columbia saw Christmas being a lonely time for me. As a bachelor with few acquaintances, I had some very lonely Christmases. The ones that weren't so lonely, had me feeling like a fifth wheel.

China strangely revived the Christmas feeling in me. Being with people so far from home, I was able to find a more congenial Christmas setting.

Now being married with Jenny and having Tony enter our lives, Christmas has taken on another meaning entirely. Family is what Christmas is all about, I see so clearly. But I endured a lot of loneliness and silly depressions before I realized what I should have known all along.

So for me, Christmas is about the birth of a child thousand years ago who was the son of God, and about family that I so thoughtlessly neglected and now for whom I must "raise my game".

Wuxi Tony Update 250: Merry Christmas! Meet Chen Chen! Meet Lucy! See Wuxi downtown!

Merry Christmas to all rare readers from AKIC! WTU 250 is my Christmas card to you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two days off.

It is my birthday tomorrow, so I have rewarded myself with two days off in a row - something I haven't had since September.

Tomorrow, the family K will visit Lucy and her new baby. Later that day, the family K will go to a Japanese Restaurant for supper. In the evening, I will try to hook up with my parents via MSN so I can wish them a Merry Christmas and they can see Tony live.

The Next day, the family K will stay home. Our Christmas will be very unChristmasy. We haven't any decorations up. There will be no tree. Christmas presents will not be unwrapped because we couldn't afford to buy any. We will lay low and make no contact with others. But with Tony being so young and so destructive, it couldn't be any other way. I will at least play some Christmas music, that I have, in the apartment that day.

Yet, it will still be the best Christmas ever. Having Tony and Jenny, I have nothing to complain about. Or, I should say my petty complaints about past Christmases have become so glaringly petty that I wonder how I could have been so stupid as to have given them any heed.

Caterpillar company will be shutting down in Wuxi from January 15 to January 30. The first time they have done this since 1982, the last time there was a major recession.

I wonder if the people I saw under the truck this morning were dead.

Crichton's Congo is a page-turner. I will probably have it read by Christmas day.

Now, I will send some Christmas emails to those who matter.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gruesome sight.

I make a game of telling you, rare reader, how many accident scenes I pass during the course of my days here in Wuxi, China. I was able to make a game of it because all I have seen is wrecked vehicles and no actual carnage.

No actual carnage, that is, until today. Coming back from Timken on the freeway, I saw a van stopped on the left side of the road and a flatbed truck stopped on the right. From a distance, I could make out figures lying beneath the back of the flatbed. As the taxi I was in passed the scene, I saw that two motorcyclists had been hit and taken under the flatbed. The expressions on their faces were stunned but otherwise expressionless. A stream of blood trickled down one of the rider's forehead. The accident must have happened but a minute before.

The sight shocked me. Combined with seeing the man put on a stretcher last night, this game of mine has taken on a more gruesome turn. I suppose one day, I will see someone get killed on the roads of Wuxi.

Before the accident, I would have first mentioned what happened at Timken. I learned that Timken, like Seagate, will be shut down from Christmas to the New Year because of a slowdown in business. I was at Timken to judge a speaking contest, the topic Christmas. I made a speech about Christmas which has given me the kernel of an idea for an essay I will eventually publish in this blog about what Christmas means and has meant to me. I conceived the outline of the speech as I spoke, without plan, to the Timken students.

Wuxi Tony Update #249: Big Bad Tony!

This video was uploaded a day later than it should have been to Youtube.

I am not leaving till you pay!

An anecdote and two sights from my electric bike ride home to report:

  1. Translation services were needed at a police station for a French man staying at a hotel in Wuxi, China. It seems that he thought the local woman he brought to his hotel room was there for a one night stand. The woman thought he was employing her services. When the woman did not receive the money she was expecting, she didn't leave the hotel room. Local police had to be called in to settle the dispute. The Frenchman got away with not paying. This man obviously did not read my tips on getting through the recession. But he gave me one I never thought of: playing the dumb foreigner with a local prostitute can you save you money.
  2. I had thought that the cheaper world fuel prices would mean no fuel line-ups in China. But on the way home tonight, I passed a lineup of a hundred or so trucks at a fuel station.
  3. I saw just one accident scene on the way home but the accident must have been a doozie. There was debris piled everywhere and one person was put into the ambulance.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cold Weather in Wuxi.

It is cold by Wuxi standards which means it is below zero Celsius. I happened to be on my electric bike early this morning and I was dressed well. But my fingers had a sore feeling of cold that I haven't experienced since driving my heater-less VW Bug in Winnipeg at minus thirty.

I also noticed that the cheap box vans were stalling out in the cold. Either that or the three vans just all happened to break down by coincidence.

Old trucks were not starting also I saw some people using fire to try to warm the oil pan below one truck while someone was in the cab turning the ignition - a dangerous practice. I was told that the radio was warning people not to do this.

I found a copy of Micheal Crichton's Congo when wandering the used-book stalls of Nanchang Market. The lady asked ten rmb for it. I talked her down to eight. Crichton died recently and all the obits I read said he wrote many a fine thriller. He was also a global warming skeptic.

My son Tony likes paying with coins. He likes them because of the shape; not because of the monetary value. I had to stop him from putting the coins in the garbage with his used diapers. Having to retrieve money from among the poo was not a great experience.

I will get my birthday and Christmas off this year. I have no plans other than to spend it with the family K. We will visit an old friend and student of mine who just had a baby herself. I believe we are going to eat Japanese for my birthday supper.

I haven't done any Christmas shopping this year due to financial considerations. In the case of Tony, I can get away with it because he is too young to know any different. I will have to get into the tradition of Christmas once my son is old enough to know, which I imagine will be next year. My wife is actually making more effort than me to do something for Christmas. This says a lot since she has never celebrated it before meeting me.

That said, I do look forward to being able to afford to go shopping for Tony one day.

Thinking back on my life, I have to admit that I haven't been in the habit of celebrating Christmas. Once I moved to British Columbia, it was simply a day off and a sort of annoyance. Christmas strangely got better in China, but this year will be a write-off except for the fact that I do have Tony and Jenny. And that will make it the best Christmas ever!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Barack Obama equals Bernard Madoff

Reading this article about Bernard Madoff, I see that people simply wanted to believe what they wanted to believe. How could Bernie do this? people exclaim. He seemed so genuine.

In the financial world, trust and handshakes are so important, as it is in the world of politics. Yet, people want politicians to regulate the financial world. But who regulates the politicians? And who is stop a charlatans populating both the political and financial worlds?

And yet with Madoff, there were clues all along and people didn't want to believe them. I see the same with Obama and his shady Chicago associations. There are so many clues about Obama and how his politics of change will be no change at all and how he is just another politician positioning, not transcending the issues. But it is considered impolite at this time to point them out.

Buyer and Voter and Investor beware!

Saturday Night Whatevers.

  • The wife's been sick the past two days. She began to not feel well at the Christmas Party that was held at the school. She complained about having chills and a headache. Going to work today, I worried that she had enough energy to make it through the day.
  • Meanwhile, Tony has an eye infection. Crusty crap (I can't think of the name of the stuff) is forming in his eyes.
  • Tony loves to dip his hands in water. Today, he had a good time with our water machine, getting his hands all wet and then running to the couch.
  • Tony can pronounce "Ma, Ma" very clearly. Tonight, he chanted "Ma, Ma" like a boy playing with a newly discovered toy.
  • Some days, you wonder why you go to work. Today was a day that made me rethink my assumptions.
  • How did Bernard Madoff get away with for so long as he did? There were people saying all along that he was pulling a scam. But these people weren't the regulators who Madoff probably also conned. Madoff, being a former NASDAQ chairman, had no problem fooling the SEC. Milton Friedman observed that when the government needs help in regulating industries, it of course goes to people in the industry itself to "help" regulate.
  • I haven't been smoking much lately. I can't afford to and I really have to stop bumming smokes. Today, I can say I didn't have any, though last night I bummed four. The lack of smokes has made me feel snarkier than usual.
  • Lucky me. I had a seat on the bus both to and from work.
  • I listen to the latest edition of Radio Derb which I download from Itunes every Saturday. Today, I downloaded it at work and was able to listen to it on my way back home. Derb's big thought was about the U.S. no longer being a simple commercial republic. When Harry Truman finished his presidency, he had to take out a loan to get the time to write his memoirs. Bill Clinton, as an ex-president, is raking in the dough getting tribute from sultanates and leaders all over the world.
  • The inauguration of the Big O will probably attract a crowd of 2 to 4 million people. The Big O if he had any decency, could try and stop this Nuremberg type rally with all its expense from happening by swearing himself in at the registrar's office. I have never watched an inauguration before and I certainly won't be watching this one. I have enough gas as it is.
  • I was watching the movie made about the original Woodstock Music Festival tonight. Some of what I saw revolted me. I must be too conservative for my own good. Clearly, people took their wealth for granted and decided to become barbarians. The Love and Peace that was on display at the festival wouldn't have lasted much past the three days of the festival because people have to eat and clothe and bathe themselves. People can be happy together when they don't have to work, but when there is work to be done and human laziness makes an appearance.... Some of the music wasn't bad. The two songs I saw performed by the Who were dynamite. But I couldn't getting around all the people behaving abominably. One kid was interviewed and though he acknowledged that his immigrant parents had done a lot to raise him, his attitude to this was "so what" and he wanted a freedom his parents were too square to understand.
  • I went to a nearby grocery store to buy eggs and I couldn't help by be disgusted by these two men smoking as they waited in line to make a purchase. Now, I am no anti-smoking fascist. People complain about smokers ruining their health, and I complain about anti-smoking health-fascists ruining my soul (thanks to the Derb for that thought). But there is a line that smokers should not cross as those men I saw tonight did.
  • I don't follow the NHL much anymore, but I was interested to hear about the Black Hawks playing an outdoor hockey game in Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. I saw the setup of the rink on the field though, and I wonder how anyone in the stands would be able to see any action.
  • The wife tells me it will be cold tomorrow. The past few days, I have been feeling over-dressed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Interview with Judy from HyLite School in Wuxi, China

The latest interview of the other hard-hitting and controversial series I am doing for my Youtube channel

Wuxi Tony Update #248: WTU goes Sichuan!

Tony at the 2008 HyLite Christmas Party

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Happy Fifth Birthday HyLite

Here is a photo of the Birthday Cake that celebrated the fifth birthday of our English School in Wuxi, China. The Cake didn't last five minutes once it was cut. There be a video on Youtube showing what happened.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Flood of 1991.

There was a flood in Wuxi, China in 1991. A fact I learn every time I do a particular salon class about disasters. This flood wasn't severe. Many parts of Wuxi were not flooded. And at the parts that were, the water wasn't that deep.

But every once in a while, I learn a detail about the flood from the students. Recently, a student told me about seeing the rats and mice swimming.

The School will have a Christmas Party tonight (Friday). You can visit my other blog to see the photos from tonight and Christmas Parties past.

The wife goes away to the market so it is just Tony and me in the house.

I am not tired of the Wizard of Oz which plays daily on our T.V. Tony isn't either. However, my wife is at her wit's end.


Get that box off your head. I hate to say it, but I taught him to do this. This photo was not set up.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #247: Tony's Father's Forehead

Cowards and useless bystanders.

I just taught a student who had her arm in a sling because it was fractured. She fractured her arm in a traffic accident. Riding her bicycle she was hit by a motorcycle that was carrying two men and traveling too fast. The passenger on the bike looked at her on the ground as the driver accelerated the bike as fast as he could to get away.

I often wonder about the character of many of the drivers here in Wuxi, especially those on bikes, tricycles, and in dump trucks. Those two on the bike were cowards.

But then the story gets worse. As she lay on the ground, the student was surrounded by bystanders who did nothing to help her. She told me this was because they were afraid that if they did attempt to help her, they would be asked to pay money, nabbed, as it were, into having to take the financial responsibility for the mishap. One man did ask her what was the matter....

The student had to pick herself up and ride herself home. The pain in her arm got worse. Her father eventually took her to the hospital.

The true meaning of Christmas? Because of the economic crisis, there will be less gift-buying. But, then Christmas was never originally about economics anyway, it was about the transcendence of it.


The wife sits behind me as I write this very sentence, so I will start a rave about her. A male student in one of my classes this evening said that women are better at raising children than men. I would have to testify that from my experience this is absolutely true. To see my wife handle Tony with such skill and grace, I know I could be nothing but an oaf, if it was just me with the boy, and I was trying to feed, bathe, and dress him. Not just any oaf would I be; I would be the clumsiest oaf there ever was.

My wife tells me just now to not drive her mad.

In the same class where a student made his observation about women and child-rearing, I heard of a not too uncommon situation where a mother is separated from her child for economic reasons. One of the students working in Wuxi is a mother of a 20 month old child who is living in another province with the mother's parents. The mother has a job at Wuxi with a good foreign company. Her parents can't move to Wuxi till next year. Currently, the mother hasn't seen the baby since early October!

This revelation lead me to ask the students their opinions about universal day-care and the economic viability of families with stay-at-home moms. The students thought universal child-care was a great idea. Social workers could raise children better than mothers they figured. As well, because of the one-child policy, universal day-care would mean children would not be raised alone. I am naturally opposed to this idea, but I wasn't interested in arguing the point - I was curious about their opinions. The students thought also that is not economically possible for a family to have a stay-at-home mom, even if they have but one child to raise. My mother, a stay-at-home, raised three of us I told them. They said this was because I grew up in a developed Western country. But I pointed out to them that it has become less and less viable for mothers to stay at home in the West or so I have been lead to believe. (I feel this is because the increased portion of salaries going to government as well as a desire to have more than we can really afford)

Telling the same students that it has been thirty years since the Chinese government began to implement economic reforms, I asked what they thought China must do in the future to continue with their economic progress. They told me that China must not just be a manufacturing country having the advantage of cheap labour, and so should become more of an innovative. They also said that China has to rid itself of its many monopolies that at first benefited from the growth but are now stifling it. Broaching the topic of political reform, I told the students that the world looks at China and wonders about the party. One of the student then told me she was a member of the party, but she immediately skewered the awkwardness of the moment for me by telling me that she wondered why she had joined the party. She joined the party because she was told it was necessary to advance in Chinese society, but she never became an active member except attending quarterly meetings where she sat and watched. She felt now a scepticism about the party and wondered about its future.

Riding the bike home, I observed two things worthy of blog entries. I first saw a sidewalk seller, his wares laid out on the sidewalk, as I rode through a underpass tunnel after nine p.m. What business could this man possibly get from cyclists at that time of day? I wondered. But they must get some because sidewalk sellers are not an uncommon sight when I ride home at night. I have even seen them hawking DVDs and bike helmets late into the evening. I then saw a female cyclist, in her twenties, wearing a parka with a picture of characters from the Peanuts cartoon strip on the back. The popularity of Peanuts, especially Snoopy, here in China surprises me to no end. I have ridden in a car emblazoned with Snoopy pictures. I have also seen autos bearing the image of Hello Kitty. (No images of a little Calvin peeing on a Japanese flag)

Seagate is shutting its plant in Wuxi for two weeks starting December 24th. They just haven't been getting any orders lately.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Try throwing shoes at Hitler instead.

It was gratifying to see some negative comments about my take on the Bush shoe attack. Some of it wasn't worth responding to, though the assertion that the Left does not hate America contradicts all I have experienced the past thirty years. For instance, I have been told that I shouldn't wear my USA t-shirt at certain pubs in Wuxi because it pisses certain people off. Wearing the shirt in Canada had earned me hard stares. Canadians, I am one, often define themselves as not or anti-American. I have gotten sick of it. It was playing devil's advocate with a socialist in Canada that started me on on my road to Damascus. And I have seen enough talk about America that would be self-evidently bigoted if it was instead spoken about a chosen victim group. This anti-Americanism comes unsolicited to me sometimes that I wonder what it would have been like to live in Nazi Germany. Immigrants coming to North America have commented that the attitudes they have seen expressed about Americans reminds them of the anti-semitism they experienced in Eastern Europe and Russia.

So my anti-Left rants are those of an apostate who was above all interested in being fair. The criticism of Bush is so un-hinged that I worry for humanity. Shoes and worse items should have been thrown at Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Castor, Hugo Chavez, Hitler, Mugabe, and Amin to name a few. The people brave enough to try to kill Hitler, were hung off meat hooks. Imagine what dictators above would have done if someone tried throwing shoes at them. Bush has accepted the abuse as the consequence of the hard decision he had to make. Presidents do have to make life and death decisions. Bush is like the bus driver, with 40 children on his bus, forced to choose between running over a girl to save the bus and running the bus off the cliff to save the girl, being fiercely criticized for running over the girl. His decisions were not zero-sum. Bush isn't evil. If anything, he should be criticized for his idealism. The Left can't distinguish basic decency from evil, as their treatment of Bush shows. And I can't help but comment on this.

Wuxi Tony Update #246: The Jihad comes to Wuxi?

The Trifecta

To make up for lack of incidents on my trip to work yesterday, I saw three accidents on my way home from downtown Wuxi this afternoon. I first saw that a car had hit a tricycle at a cross walk. I then saw a policeman taking measurements at an accident scene involving a Mazda and a pedestrian? Finally, I saw a jeep and semi truck both with smashed windshields after a collision in which the big truck had to have been trying to make a u-turn in a strange spot.

With my son on my shoulders, I danced and grooved to footage of the punk band the Jam in concert. Previously, we had been swinging to a Sinatra TV special but the DVD suddenly went wonky much to my dismay.

Riding through the suburbs of Wuxi and Jiangsu in general, you see buildings, rubble, canals, monolithic apartment blocks, smoke stacks, dilapidated houses, potholes, highways, garbage, maniac drivers, men and women pushing carts, fields for growing food, and people, people, people.

Is the Economic Crisis a moral failure? Certainly, for many people were trying to live beyond their means, and forgot simple dictums like if you want something, you are going to have to work for it. There is also something to be said for the argument that the West, in not having children, is living for the moment and not giving a tinker's tuss for the next generation except by falling for the bogey of global warming. Moral failures are often intellectual failures. The idea that you buy a house as an investment instead of a place for a family has lead to great financial rot. But despite the problems people have with Capitalism, you are never going to find a better way in which to organize society so it can create wealth for itself.

And there is no denying that the market is amoral in many instances. There are thriving markets for porn and pop music and drugs for instance. It is this amorality that makes otherwise excellent men like the Pope wish the market would disappear or at least be subject to control by moral authorities. But we know that this control only creates the poverty that oftentimes breeds the moral amorality of Socialism. What do I suggest that the Pope do?

The first thing one should realize the market is that all the values are subjective. Something is worth whatever you think it is worth. The problem is getting other people to think this something is worth as much or less as you think it is. No one is wrong in the market about their values. The errors come from trying to know what the value the others place on a thing or things are. The Pope's problem is not the market; the Pope's problem is trying to convince people in the market that the world is as valuable as he thinks it is.

Politics and Economics are enemies. Of this there can be no doubt. That is why the politicians were trying to save the big three automakers. There was a man running for President, who saw the current economic crisis coming and his name wasn't Obama or McCain. He was Ron Paul. If he wasn't so dumb on foreign policy, he would have been up a stronger showing in the Republican primaries. But on economics, he was the only candidate with any sense. But in these times, common sense is thrown out the window as people panic.

Tony and I in the apartment all afternoon while the wife went shopping. She will be home soon. I am hoping the wife doesn't say that he was freezing under my watch. She always does except when all the windows are open in the morning to let fresh air in.

I was able to ascertain from Chinese radio that the first direct flights from Taiwan to Shanghai recently happened.

Thanks Ma and Pa for the parcel. We received it last night. Jenny likes the underwear you bought her.

Product idea: KLJs: the underwear that doubles as a dress pant.

Another product idea: AKIC sponge cake: the sponge cake that tastes more delicious after you use it to wipe the supper plates.

Wuxi Tony Update #245: No Rest for the Wicked!

I wanted to make a blog entry this afternoon. But I couldn't. WTU 245 will tell you why.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Interview with Lisa from HyLite, Wuxi, China #2

I am thinking I will take more of these interview videos. You must know what the locals with better English think.

Cowardly attack on Bush.

I suppose people on the Left are getting off, as it were, on the shoe attack on President Bush. Bush, to his credit, acted with a grace that you would never have seen from Clinton or Obama if a similar thing had been done to them. (In fact, Obama and Clinton have had numerous moments of gracelessness; I can't recall Bush ever complaining about all the abuse he has received.)

After learned just now well after the rest of the world, I guess that the attack on Bush was a left-winger's wet dream, that would only have been surpassed by a successful attack on Obama. Why is it that the Left wants U.S. presidents to be assassinated? They hate America. There is nothing in it for conservatives if presidents are assassinated. It doesn't allow them to uphold their worldview. But for the Left, presidential assassinations are the perfect opportunity to crow righteously about what a violent and hateful place America is.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Layers on. Layers off.

I had to pack on the layers of clothing this morning. It was cold when I rode to the downtown.

But about 1100 AM, as I was walking in the downtown, the layers had to be discarded. I was warm with the terrible "I have ten pounds of clothing more than necessary" feeling.

This afternoon, I will go out to Shuo Fang for a class. The forty minute ride will be an excellent opportunity for me to take a power nap.

If you are craving excitement, I suggest you go to Shuo Fang. If you know what Steinbach is to Winnipeg, Chater is to Brandon, and Wuxi is to Shanghai then you will have a good idea what Shuo Fang is to Wuxi: a retreat from the big smoke.

Harry told me he meet some guy named Dashel who said he knew me and read this blog. I say hello!

A funny thing happened on my way to work this morning: nothing funny happened on my way to work this morning. So now I am at my wit's end, trying to think of something to blog about.

In the office, there is Josie, Judy, Tina, Elsi, Nancy, Harry, and Dennis. Five out of seven is pretty good if you ask me. And when you think of all those who aren't there, it looks even better. For example, there is no Fidel, Adolf, Joseph, Hugo, Icabob, Al, and Elmer.

I will do an episode of the Simpsons in my Movie Salon this Saturday.

On my desk, there is a small flag of Latvia, the DVD of the movie Holiday Inn, a can of Pepsi, a family portrait, a stapler, and an old issue of People magazine.

Sunday Evening Musings.

I've got twenty minutes to blog before the wife needs the computer again. So, I must be quick.

It is nice to be at home in a warm home with a loving son and a wife who is cleaning the house. He he.

Chicago, Illinois, USA seems to be a place lacking in discipline. Oprah has gained weight again. I heard on Radio Derb that she is over 200 lbs these days. Obama has completely given up smoking. Which in my books is something good to be said for him. But still it is weak, for a man who is a God, and whose very poo is not tainted by poo like it is for other normal mortals. As well, the governor of the state can swear but not in a manner befitting a governor. And then there is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright who had to be put in exile in Africa for the duration of the Big 0's presidential campaign.

Did you know that my wife and somebody else's wife are not speaking to each other? It was the first I had heard of it. I can't say that I had any knowledge that these two had any animosity toward each other. If they did and I was told about it, I wasn't there. Having just heard about it, I have to say that I am very sad and don't think it is prudent for me to comment any further on the matter.

Maybe, I have said it before, but I will say it again. If Wuxi didn't have 5 million Chinese in it, it would be a small town of provincial expats.

I visited real clear politics for the first time since the U.S. election.

The fundamentals to a good economy: the citizens must be hard-working, thrifty, willing to take risks, and not willing to suck on the government teat.

Tony was in a hugging mood this evening, something which I will have to enjoy while I can. I know that in the future, his old man will be an embarrassment to him.

I have always been a man looking for a world-view. I started out with a left-wing one but it quickly became unsatisfactory. I then flipped over to a conservative world-view thanks to Rush Limbaugh and the fall of the Soviet Union. My viewpoints were still tinged with a bit too much idealism and a belief that all humans could make changes for the better. Now, I have still kept my conservative viewpoint but am losing more and more of the idealism. But I will still stand for decency and truth.

I showed the students the start of the film Holiday Inn. One of them told me that it reminded him of an Indian movie, what will all the singing and dancing. I think the film's classiness went over all the student's heads. However, they were blown away by Bing Crosby's rendition of "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas."

The Chinese don't seem to be offended by the display of "Merry Christmas" signs in their hometown. I say this because I find it hard to believe that there is a movement to suppress the word "Christmas" in North America.

Funny, how many of the Trainers at school are now professing Christians because they demand to get Christmas day off.

Time to give the computer to Jenny....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Foot Gloves

My wife is wearing yellow foot gloves. That is, her socks have, like gloves for hands, slots into which one can insert an individual toe. I have never seen that before. Do rich people have such things? I wonder.

Tony was saying something this morning and saying it over and over again. It made sense to him. And he was saying it with a big smile on his face.

I work overtime today. Something I must do to keep the wife and child in comfort.

My birthday is coming. The wife was asking me what I wanted. And I have to admit that I had no wish list other than a cool toy both Tony and I can enjoy.

Leave papers unattended for a few minutes, and Chinese students will immediately try to look through them. I knew this and made the mistake yesterday as the students found my sheet of results of their latest test. I was too tired to protest. I will have to slowly and methodically plot my revenge.

I have a small place in my cold heart for Minnesota. It was the place that my grandparents lived so I spent some time there growing up. I always want to see the NFL Vikings do well. However, it distresses me to see their electoral choices are so liberal-democrat. There seemed to be a ray of hope for the place when it appeared that that loathsome figure Al Franken (author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot) was narrowly defeated in his hope to win a Minnesota senate seat. But there has been a recount and Franken is continuing the tradition, stared by Al Gore, of going to court to contest the results of an election and so have the process run on for months and months and months. Now, Franken may even win after all. It is a shame. How can anyone think that electing that rude, unfunny man can be any good for anyone?

Tony in the Kitchen

Here is my son Tony is the kitchen of our apartment in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi, China. With great anticipation, he waits for the steam buns in the silver container you see to cool down so we can eat them.
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Wuxi Tony Update #244: Piggyback!

My wife does the camera work in this must-see video.

Sore Throat and Bad Cough.

I coughed so much last night that I had a sore and raw feeling throat all the day. It didn't stop me from talking and my voice didn't become high-pitched. But it feels bad enough to give me premonitions of things worsening. One of my colleagues at work who had the cold earlier than me has told me of a similar experience. He had a coughing episode in the middle of the night and suffered a sore throat the rest of the day. He also ended up losing his voice which has me worried. I need my voice; I can't afford to lose it. So I hope the medicine, which my wife is swearing by and I am now taking, works

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chinese Students say Bush not to blame for Economic Crisis

I spent an hour talking about the Economic Crisis with some students this morning. An informal polling of them showed that most did not think George Bush was to blame for the Economic Crisis. They also said that there was not much Obama can do in the next year.

My friend still follows the line that the system works in Canada, as if that was the issue that was raising my ire in the coalition crisis of the past week.

An Interview with Ida from HyLite School in Wuxi, China

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wuxi Tony Update #243; Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra!

Friday Morning Respite

For how long this respite lasts, I will have to consult or not consult my son who is asleep.

One thing is for sure, when he wakes up - end of respite. Not that that is a bad thing. I think I will use him to make WTU 243.

BTW, I don't have to be at work till 1300 today. So that is the source of the respite.

I have to be careful what I say to my wife. If I tell her I am mad at someone, she may well want to find a way to harm them.

In these depraved times, I will read some Evelyn Waugh for a bit or perspective on things.

I have just let in the maid. She is not fired after all.

Russia is going to pot. They have used up all their foreign reserves in a foolish attempt to revive their economy. Doing something for the sake of doing something is foolish. Try to point out that government attempts to revive the economy by spending are foolish and you get an emotional answer about they have to do something. Point out that that efforts to combat the bogey of global warming will only result in more poverty and suffering, and you will get another emotional argument about something must be done about the damage to the environment. In the first case, markets should be doing something to fix the economy and reorganize themselves which they would normally do without compulsion from the government. The compulsion is unnecessary. In the second case, using environmental damage as an excuse for central government planning is sheer stupidity. Central planning never works. The environment can be fixed locally.

My wife has ordered a Christmas suit for Tony. It will probably be our only concession to the important holiday this year. We do have the money to buy another tree. Tony is also too curious about things like that anyway. We can wait till he is older before we have a tree in the house again. Funny, how the people I know who are religious about Christmas are not religious about it for religious reasons. To mention that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christ child would an invitation for approbation.

If anyone reads my blog and wants to get a hold of me on Facebook, I should say that I am having an awful time getting onto Facebook these days. When I do try to visit the site, it takes for ever for a page to load, and when the page loads it is jumbled up.

Friday is Sinatra's birthday. I will do a tribute on my other site. I would like to play a Sinatra DVD on the television for the benefit of Tony but I don't think the wife will go for it.

I liked the weather that Wuxi had yesterday, unlike the others. It was cold all day which suits me because I hating having to discard layers during the day. Others just wanted the warmth. My problem was that I had more warmth than was comfortable for me.

It takes all kinds.

I will try to coin a new compound word: Wuxi Vexpat. That is, a foreigner in Wuxi who vexes or annoys others. Now, I know that I am the candidate to be king of the Wuxi Vexpats, but I surely can't be bad as the perverts and drug-addicts and lazy slobs that make up the Wuxi Expat population. They are Wuxi Vexpats, par excellence, if by excellence I mean the prime examples of what are I am coining a word to describe. These Vexpats really are not at all excellent, but contemptible.

Anyway, this coining of a word has nothing to do with what I am about to blog about. I will discuss something annoying that a local must have done. Wuxi people are notorious for doing these things I am afraid to say.

When I parked my bike tonight, I was vexed to see that one half of the parking area was unoccupied because the electrical outlets were not working and so the other half was filled to the brim, as it were, with bikes recharging. I found a spot, nonetheless, to park my bike because I do have an extension cord. As soon as I parked the bike and was about to plug the bike in, a man with a smaller bike parked his bike just right in front of the outlet I was going to use. I starred at him wondering when he would clue into the fact that I was planning to use the outlet. He didn't. I then swore loudly in a manner that only an idiot could not realize was swearing as I moved my bike to another spot. I called the man every bad name in the book: asshole, cocksucker, et cetra. But he walked away like an idiot oblivious.

My fatal flaw is to believe that people are basically decent. They mostly aren't. Try to give people second chances, and they only use it to prove that they won't change. I gave this man every chance to correct himself assuming that he was just unaware, but he didn't take it. You think people will rise to the occasion but more than often they won't.

I says to myself, looking in the mirror. Telling this to my wife, she wonders why I didn't try to tell the guy to move. Some things I suppose aren't worth fighting, is about all I can say in my defence. I have probably had absent-minded moments myself where I did something oblivious to the offence it was giving to others. Parking spots aren't worth fighting over. The rudeness you see in Wuxi is just a fact of life that as a foreigner I will have to learn to accept.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Electrical Bicycle Breakdown!

As the song goes:

Electrical Bicycle Breakdown! Oh Yeah!
Electrical Bicycle Breakdown! Oh Boy!
Electrical Bicycle Breakdown! Get away from me!
Electrical Bicycle Breakdown! Don't down me out with your industrial society ruining ways......

Who sung that song? Probably, The Electric Bunny Weasels.

That song came to mind as my electrical bike came to a sudden and unexplained stop this morning as I was on my way to work. The problem clearly was not a dead battery because the battery had been recharged. The problem came not after a fading away, but suddenly and most unexpectedly.

I was fortunate in where the bike did break down. I was only a three minutes push from the Carrefour repair shop at Baoli where I had purchased the bike.

After a fifteen minute wait at the repair place, the repairman quickly determined what the problem was. He stuck his electrical tester in a couple of locations. One of the two batteries did not register so he removed the battery and repaired one of its connections. And I was on my way to work after a twenty five minute delay.

Chinese economic woes.

Chinese Exports decline for the first time in seven years. It had to happen sooner or later. I have to cross my fingers it is not the start of a long term trend.

I have no urge to pick on the Big 0. But I have to ask how could anyone come out of the Chicago and Illinois political scene without having done something sleazy?

Lucy, a former student of mine and a good friend, recently had a baby boy who weighed a whopping 8.1 jin at birth. My wife will visit Lucy and provide me with more details.

The weather has become annoyingly mild for me. I dressed for colder weather. I am not enjoying the sunny afternoons wearing long johns and a sweater.

There was some rejoicing on the left when Daniel Ortega managed to get himself elected as President of Nicaragua again. I remember it was his defeat in an election in the 1980s forced by Ronald Reagan that led me to abandon the left-wing cause for seemingly ever. Ortega's recent victory was a disappointment to me but when I learned more details about it I saw that it was no repudiation of my left-wing abandonment. Ortega didn't get any more votes than when he was ousted from power in the first election. The rules had been changed to favour him. And now that he has been back in power, he has earned himself the title of the Mugabe of the Americas.

It was John Milton's 400th birthday recently. Milton is a hero of those who believe in human freedom and liberty. So, it is probably only conservatives that have commemorated the milestone. I can't see how the Left would be. I suppose they are too busy celebrating the election of Obama and thinking the bailout of the big three automakers is a great thing. Here is John Derbyshire's tribute.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The day continues.

I made it to work no problem. In thirty minutes, I am going to Seagate to do a Speakers' Corner. The topic? Predictions.

Tony waved and said bye-bye! to me as I left the house. It brought tears to my eyes.

This Saturday's movie corner, I will show the students good and healthy portions of the film Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and featuring the music of Irving Berlin. This was the film that introduced the smash hit song "I am dreaming of a White Christmas."

Instead of blogging, I should be making money. But how? And from who? And where?

I wonder.

I wonder if I should continue to do this blog. When, I look at my blog numbers, I wonder if I can justify the time spent blogging to my wife and son. My wife and I had a discussion about our finances last night and it has lead me to thinking that I should instead spend my time doing something that gets my family money. This blog doesn't and it doesn't seem to get that many readers.

Anyway, I will continue for now. Any comments from any readers I may have would be greatly appreciated.

I will at least be warmer on my bike ride home this winter. I convinced the wife to buy a balaclava that fits under my helmet. On the cold nights, I have ridden home, it has been the cold air getting into my helmet that has made the ride most uncomfortable.

Another source of uncomfortableness these days has been the fact that it is warm at lunch but cool in the evenings and nights. At about noon yesterday, I went for a walk and I had to shed about three layers that I did need in the morning.

If I am writing about the weather it must be time to quit blogging.

Raising children may be a boring subject to people who have a lot of time to surf the Internet, but it is nevertheless an important activity and now that I have Tony, I can't see how people would want to do anything but raise children. As this article shows we may be on the road to destroying a way-of-life. And as common-sense morality dictates, having children is a duty and not just a life-style choice. To not have children is pure selfishness. People who present child-raising as something beneath them should have their heads examined. The current acceptance of this idea that having children is just too big an inconvenience in the process of self-actualization may well see the destruction of civilization as we know it.

Tony falling asleep in my arms last night made the worries about finances go away if only for a precious moment.

Wuxi Tony Update #242: Sleepyhead joins in the act!

I haven't done a WTU in three days. What has happened to me?

Buy Your Meat on the Street!

A walk from a temple to a McDonalds.

That be Nanchang Temple

Blue Bar anniversary

It shows how much of the loop I am in Wuxi, China that I didn't know about the Blue Bar's anniversary party till it was too late. Last night, I just happened to be phoned about it as I was going to bed. But it was probably just as well that I didn't go because there was free beer and I just didn't want people thinking I was going because there was free beer.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that I was one of the customers at its' opening night when it was True Blue. But times have changed.

Kung Fu in Wuxi's Nanchang Temple

China is richer but....

You still see lots of people pulling carts like I did this morning.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hynix in Wuxi needing to be rescued by the Koreans?

Check out this link. I provide the link because I know of some people who are teaching English to a group of Hynix students.

Wife is happy.

The wife gets mad at me sometimes, but the outbursts have been short. In fact, Jenny has been the happiest I have ever seen her in our marriage. Go figure. Tony is a pain but at the end of the day raising him is a satisfying experience for her.

BTW, Tony annoyed his mother by first dipping his parka-laden arm into one of these indoor fish ponds and later burning his hand experimenting with our water machine.

Something I didn't want to see: I was on the bus riding back home tonight when I saw a truck, with lots pig carcasses, unloading. The men in the truck were throwing the carcasses, intended for human consumption, into motorcycle, three-wheeled, pickups like they were throwing wood into a bin. It gave me the creeps to see it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'll sneak this in....

I will sneak this blog entry in. It is seven in the morning. I am up before my wife and son so I do have some undistracted time to spend blogging. However, if this entry suddenly breaks off, his holy terrorness has arisen.

I have a sore throat. I wear a toque and a house coat to keep warm.

I am thinking to write a piece on why the great Canadian institution of the bench-clearing brawl should not have been suppressed as it has been, but instead should have been allowed to spread to parts of life beyond hockey. For example, a bench clearing brawl in our parliament is just the sort of thing this country needs. Canada is worth fighting for. It is a shame that people who should know better, don't see a need to.

John Derbyshire's only comment on the current Canadian political situation has been to make a big yawn. There is something to be said for that.

A student told me that the Chinese government will have an easier time doing things in these economic times because it controls most of the economy. A sound basis for an economy at any time as the 20th century has demonstrated, I say hopeing the readers can sense the sarcasm.

I have heard that factories have closed in the Wuxi, China new district.

There was an accident at Suntech, a company for which I am currently teaching some students, in which seven workers were injured. When I asked the Suntech students about it, they immediately asked me how I knew. I told them the story came up on a google alert for Wuxi, China.

Although taking the bus to work is warmer for me, it is little more satisfying than riding a bike in the cold. The bus is crowded. Try to stand in one place, and you will be constantly pressed against. One time yesterday, I felt so crowded that I frustratingly turned around to push away a person crowding me in. Only problem was that this person was an old lady, and I had whacked her in the face with an umbrella that I was carrying in a outside pocket of my back pack. I felt tension form the crowd and heard them say "Laowei!". The old woman muttered angrily as she rubbed a spot on her face. All I could do was apologize in Chinese. It seemed to defuse the situation, by I felt shame at my having given in to a temporary feeling of pique.

The main bedroom is warm. AKIC blogging central, in the second bedroom, is cold. Heat in a Wuxi, China apartment is not provided by central heating but by portable heaters placed in a particular room.

In a movie class at school yesterday, I showed the Browning Version (1951). The students found the movie to be so-so. But there was enough shown to generate conversation about whether the students had teachers in their school days similar to the Crock. But opinions varied from there having been a few to there having been a majority of teachers like the despised Crocker-Harris of the movie.

Wuxi Tony Update #241: Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!

Wuxi Tony Update #240: A Photo Slideshow.

Tony says "B"!

Tony walked over to where I was sleeping at four in the morning and said a distinct "B" or "Bee" to me. It may well have been because I have been reading a Doctor Seuss "ABC" book to him every day.


Time to brighten up this blog with some photos of my son Tony. The above photos were taken for Tony's first birthday. They will be part of the official, public lot I will show till we get to a studio again for more photos.
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Wuxi Hui Shan Bus Stop

I took this video Saturday Morning. I had decided to take the bus instead of ride my bike.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Politics can be my obsession.

They say you shouldn't talk about politics and religion in polite conversation. But I can't help but be obsessed with what just happened in Canada. I just had to phone my Canadian friend to talk to him about. And as you may know if you have read my previous entries in this blog, I was disappointed by his views.

Talking about politics can turn people off. Some people will just walk away from me when I bring up the topic. I remember this one American guy in Ronnie's expressing annoyance at my wanting to talk about the U.S. election...

But I don't like talking about pubic hair so what's a guy to do?