Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

What We did New Year's Eve
Jenny and I were watching a movie District 9 on DVD.  The film was just okay.  I couldn't quite get away from the feeling that the aliens could have destroyed the Earthlings but for the purposes of the plot, were holding back.  There was also this narration voice speaking all through the movie that was so annoying!  It sounded it like it was reading the movie's script.
 
At about 1215, while watching the movie, I looked at the clock and noticed that it was past midnight and so it was the new year.  I missed the countdown!
 
More RAM
More RAM seems to be helping this computer so far.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AKIC's Final 2009 Blog Entry. AKIC's Wuxi Expat of 2009.

It's Over!
On the bus ride to work (boy oh boy, was it crowded), I was thinking what to call the upcoming decade.  The Naughties end tonight at midnight bringing in the dawning of the what?

I am thinking the next ten years should be called the shiyaos.  That is, since the English language doesn't seem to have a word to describe 10 to 19, I say we use the Chinese language in which every number between 10 and 19 starts with shi (ten in mandarin pinyin).  So the Shiyaos it should be. (Yao is pinyin for a number, among other things, I believe).

AKIC's Western New Year's Eve
I will spend my New Year's Eve at home.  I work till nine tonight, and like my students I will head home and hit the hay.  I may stay up to watch CCTV's celebration.  Going out on New Year's Eve is such a "Me" thing to do  -- best, I stay home with the wife and kids.

The AKIC Wuxi Expat of the Year
Who is it?  Is it anyone you know?  And Why? The year is not quite over with, so you will have to wait a few days for the announcement.

Avatar
The guy at the DVD shop told me that the Avatar copy for sale wasn't very good.  So, I bought District Nine instead.  I bought Pat the Postman for Tony.  I was very tempted to buy Bob the Builder, but it was a little expensive for the K family budget.

Medicine
I am taking some TCM for my voice.  It tastes noxious, but a good noxious; a noxious that makes you feel like it is good for you.

More RAM
More RAM has been installed in the computer at AKIC Central Casa Kaulins branch.  I hope it helps what has been a slow computing experience for my wife at home.

Happy New Year!
Thanks to the rare readers who pay regular visits to this blog.  It has been the best year ever for visitors.  I have been getting more and more nice messages than ever before.  I hope I have angered the ones who deserve it, and pleased somebody.  This blog is a labour of love for me.  The only payoff I want is increased readership, an occaisional nice comment, and constructive criticism and chidings whenever necessary.

Thank you very much!

Look at Tony's Slippers!

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What Boy Tony Did...

False Alarm
I should have trusted my instincts.  The Tesco in Hui Shan was not open, and won't be open till next month.  The hoopla in front of the building was much ado about not much.  The lower mall level of the store was opening though most of the shops and restaurants were just starting to be set up.  The promotion we saw was for the smaller stores' benefit.
 
My wife was happy to see that a KFC will be in the building.
 
The First Commandment of Parenting
Thou shalt not leave a two year boy unsupervisedth when he haseth a pen.  Now, I know that I am a father; and really what is it that I know about Parenting that my wife doesn't already know in greater depth and detail?  Still, I am the writer in the family, the chronicler as it were, so I will write the Bible, the parenting Bible, that is.  And since it is my Bible, I will damn well put the parenting commandments in any order I so desire.  And there is nothing you can do about it. 
 
Anyhow, my wife told me that Tony got a pen and proceeded to mark the furniture with it.  That is par for the course  -- not like he hasn't done that fifty times before.  But then he also marked his hands and face with the pen  -- he wrote on his forehead and around his lips.  "How did he get the pen?" I asked.  Jenny said she gave it to him, was distracted long enough for him to do what he did.
 
Soaking my feet in hot scalding water
My wife has made me do this the last two nights.  What a sensational feeling!  I want to publicly thank Jenny for forcing me to do this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An obligatory AKIC weekend entry

It being a working weekend for me, I don't have much time but to make an obligatory entry.  So, for better or worse, here goes nothing, better little than too late, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly and so on.
 
I am losing my voice
Wuxi's only passionate voice for Conservative and clear-headed principles has a cold and a very raspy feeling throat.  To hear me talk is to hear a shrill, gasping old man.  I don't sound so bad if I speak dispassionately, but as soon as I orally emote, my voice cracks. 
 
Hui Shan Tesco Grand Opening?
Something is happening at the Tesco location that is but a ten minute walk from Casa Kaulins.  Passing the location, every day on my way to the downtown, I have noticed progress, but I thought the place was still a month away from opening.  But today, there is a stage being setting up as well as booths for vendors in the front of the store.  The wife and I will go to investigate and report back.

Monday, December 28, 2009

AKIC Weekend

It is my weekend but I won't be posting much to the blog.  I have a bad cold at the moment; I have some overtime classes to teach both evenings; and so I am using all my available free time to rest.  I don't know how to do an extended agghhh!! and whine in prose. And I don't want to.
 
Mission Accomplished?
Taking the bus, I saw a man, with some sort of chest or throat problem, open the window and stick his head there out.  He did this right in front of me, so I couldn't help but see him.  I thought he was going to vomit but he didn't, instead he looked like he was trying to spit or retch -- making the whole opening the window bit seem inexplicable.  In my mind's eye, I also imagined him being decapitated by a truck coming close to the bus.  After two minutes, he put his head back in and patted his chest for the benefit of an acquaintance who had a bandaged eye.  The bus was full of invalids!!  I suppose the man and his friend were going to the hospital, or coming back from it.
 
 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A tritube to my long underwear

Wuxi Tony Update #497: An Idea.

Wuxi Tony Update #496: Picking up and throwing stones

The Kaulins Family goes to two wedding on one day.

First, we went to Summer and Wood's wedding.


Then, we went to Dan and Grace's Wedding.

Congratulations to all involved!
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AKIC gets back to serious blogging

Steaming Vomit
You know it is cold in China when you see the vomit is steaming on the streets.  Scary for me was the fact that I was the only one who seemed to noticed the vomit.  As I stood at the bus stop, I saw countless people step in it.  
 
Dump Trucks on the local Wuxi news
When Jenny was watching the local t.v. news, I happened to notice two reports about Dump Truck accidents.  In one, a dump truck ran over a cyclist.  My reaction was Yawn! Nothing New - this happens all the time.  I bet fifty people a year in Wuxi are killed by Dump Trucks being driven by operators under the most intense pressure.  I have seen drivers run red lights at very fast speeds.   In the other report, a bridge collapsed as another Dump Truck was being driven over it.  The bridge looked like the rinky-dinky concrete bridges that line the countryside and small city neighbourhood areas.  The truck ended up submerged in about eight feet of water.
 
Racist Chinese Children
I swear some Wuxi kids have an attitude to foreigners that borders on racism.  While I will get stared at all the time, you won't have adults talk to you like you are some kind of monkey.  I had this one little snotty-nosed bastard of a child, who deserved nothing less than a good, swift cuffing behind both ears, stand beside me at a McDonald's with an attitude that was patronizing to the extreme.  The kid actually grabbed my food to see what I was eating.
 
Did Premier Wen Snub Obama?
John Derbyshire mentioned this story which many Obamanites of course many want to downplay.  I will ask the students about it in a an upcoming English corner, and report back to you with their reaction.
 
Prominent Wuxi Expat buys long underwear at Metro
At Dan and Grace's wedding, I overheard a prominent Wuxi Expat saying he was able to buy long underwear Triple XL at Metro, and that it fit him very well.
 
Like a Deer in Headlights?
I am not sure if it an apt comparison, but I was just not with-it at these weddings I went to.  I could blame it on my also-having to teach on the same day and the fact that I had a cold.  Still, everything seemed distant.  Perhaps, I read so much and rarely interact  -- I am not used to it anymore.  I prefer blogs to people?  Am I a terrible schmoozer?
 
Do you eat the Black Eggs?
When I first attended Chinese Weddings, I thought the black eggs, that came with the chocolate in packages customarily given to guests, were disgusting.  Now, I eat them hardily.  So if you don't want your black eggs, give them to me!
 
Jenny has a Driver's License.  Car to follow...
Jenny got her driver's license.  It arrived via courier Monday morning.  Now, she wants to buy a car.  Now, I want to say Yahweh!

The 500th WTU!
I have recorded the Five Hundredth episode of the Wuxi Tony Update Series.  It has been uploaded to youku.  Later you will be able to see in on Youtube.

The Provence
Having lived in Wuxi for five years, it is embarrassing to say that I haven't been able to go to the Provence till last evening.  I enjoyed the food.  I hope the money to go there again some time.


 
 
 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Four Classes and Two Weddings

I have arranged it so I have a busy day.  I will teach a class, go to a wedding, then teach three classes, and go to another wedding after.
 
Not much time to blog.  Hopefully, everything goes according to plan.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The AKIC Boxing Day Dispatch

Wuxi Christmas
I worked till nine p.m. on Christmas Eve.  I can report that the Protestant church near our school had a security cordon around its' entrance, and that the streets of Wuxi were very crowded with people out for the holiday.  The resulting traffic had me get home twenty minutes later than usual.
 
The Wuxi Kaulins Family Christmas
On Christmas Morning, Jenny asked me if had Christmas Day off from work.  I had forgotten to mention it to her earlier.  I had told rare readers of AKIC that Christmas was going to be lazy for me, and so it was, but Jenny asking me if I had the day off shows how little planning went into it.  I did put on the EWTN TV player to hear some Christmas music and worship, but I mostly spent the day with Tony, changing DVDs for him constantly as nothing seemed to keep his interest for more than twenty minutes.  Feeling a little under the weather, I was hoping for a day of rest but Tony wouldn't let me snooze.  Supper was simple.   I was in bed by nine p.m. Christmas night.
 
The highlight of the day was being able to talk to my parents and brother who are in snowed-in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.  I will confess that hearing their voices brought tears to my eyes -- I suppose these tears were tears of guilt for really I should be talking to them more often than I do -- making the phone call was easy.  For my parents, I suppose it was great to be able to hear their grandson say some words.  For Jenny, I think the call made her want to go to Canada this year.
 
I learned from my family that Latvia plays Canada in a world junior hockey championship game on Boxing Day.  Go Latvia!
 
 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #498: The Christmas Video

Heaven and Nature sing!!: My Christmas Quotes and Links Entry

This is my written Christmas Greeting to my very rare readers.  All the best to you and your families.

Quote from the article linked above:   Christmas is one of those moments when the language has been let alone to do what it really wants to do.
 
Pope Benedict XVI on the meaning of Christmas 
Why do we really celebrate Christmas despite the wretchedness, turmoil, and isolation that are still man's lot and are if anything intensifying, rather than lessening? What is the real point of Christmas? . . . Is it not consoling to see how, despite all the misunderstands, the message of Jesus of Nazareth is heard? It is not only conflict that the message has produced but also and even more the miracle of understanding, so that across ages and cultures, and even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name. Distance vanishes and people are drawn together when this name is spoken . . . for Christmas says to us, amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being's ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather, he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gave. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man became in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.
— Dogma and Preaching
(*That is the point of Christmas.  Any other reason to celebrate it isn't worth the trouble.*)
 
Averting Depression and Suicide
From this blog entry about the benefit of having dogs as companions.  I came across this quote:

Dogs also avert depression by providing a constant distraction, and I believe they help prevent suicide. They certainly did in my case, as even when I wanted to end it all, I just wasn't selfish enough to do something like that to animals that I loved who depended on me. I would have had to get rid of them first -- a thought more awful than getting rid of myself. I don't mean to be maudlin, but I do not exaggerate when I say that one of the reasons I am alive today is because of my dogs.
 
The thought came to me that I would say the same about getting married to Jenny and having Tony.  You have to have a reason bigger than yourself for living and it is a sin not to have one.
 
Dwight Eisenhower
In President Eisenhower's famous "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex" speech, the Liberal Icon and Pacifist Saint  Eisenhower also had this to say:

"…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Tony on his 28th birthday!


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Tony is 28.

Twenty Eight months, that is.  I should have mentioned yesterday that it was Tony's 28th month birthday.  Anyway, it was. 

With Tony, I don't have to delve so much, be Hamlet-like, on my becoming forty five.

Wuxi Tony Update #495: The 2009 HyLite Christmas Party featuring Tony.

Wuxi Tony Update #494: Ping Pong amuses Tony

The Last Batch of photos from the 2009 HyLite Christmas Party

Summer and Tracy
Tony and Andis
Lisa and Eleven
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Tony and his Dolls

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
Have to give credit where credit is due, but the Chinese love of Children puts the West and me to shame.  It is not forced; it seems absolutely genuine.  Yesterday, I took Tony for a walk in the apartment complex (video to follow), and a worker, probably a migrant, pushing a wheelbarrow approached us.  Seeing Tony, the worker stopped, put down the barrow handles, and smiled, danced, and clapped for him.  It was sweet of that man to do so, especially considering that Tony's father has all sorts of privileges that a worker from rural China could only dream off.  Talk about being able to rise above your station! 
 
Today, when the K family went to Baoli to do some grocery shopping, I was sitting on a bench there with a sick Tony in my arms.  This old woman, with worn-out slippers for shoes and bad teeth, looked at Tony and then gave us the biggest smile.  She then lifted the lid of a nearby garbage can to see if there were any contents she could take.  Could Westerners do that ? --  Forgot so much about their situation to give others a smile?
 
The Bad
I give the Chinese no credit however when it comes to their driving -- they are selfish and inconsiderate.  Hard to believe that a civilization so old can be so barbaric on the roads.  Today, with Tony in my arms, I was attempting to cross the street, the green pedestrian light indicating it was okay to go.  A driver tried to make a right turn in front and I wasn't going to let him or her-- I had the right of way.  But the driver cut me off and so I pounded my fist on his trunk.  This caused the driver to stop, roll down his window, and say something.  My wife screamed back at her.  Later, my wife told me the driver had called me an idiot, and that she responded in kind.  I wonder if I did the right thing?  However, I know that I would do what that driver had done.
 
Forgive them -- they know not what they do!  But surely they know they are taking foolish chances on the road?
 
The Ugly
I did to allude to the fact that Tony has been sick the last two days.  Yesterday, he threw up on the living room rug.  Today, he threw up in the aisle of Baoli Carrefour -- Disgusting and thus qualifying as Ugly for the purpose of this blog entry.  But to able to carry a sleeping Tony in my arms is a sentimental joy that makes being a parent so worthwhile.
 
 

Monday, December 21, 2009

AKIC Saturday Rambling Raminations

All I want for Christmas
Actually, I don't want anything for Christmas.
 
Teaching a Primary School Grade One
You may know that I went to a Primary School Monday afternoon to teach.  It was an experience that I would rather forget, as the class went out of control.  I got the kids too excited and then couldn't control them.  It was going off the rails and the plot was being lost.  Still, I persevered and brought back a semblance of civilization at the end.  But since they weren't my kids, and I was there too short a time to work on discipline, I couldn't employ the tactics I would have liked on some of the little runts.
 
God, I pray Tony doesn't become a runt.
 
Santa and Jesus
Never having talked about the Nativity Story at Christmas time before, I have been talking it up a vengeance this year.  I have found that the students have little knowledge of it.  I had a student tell me that Joseph became known as Santa Claus.  I had a student, I told you before, say Jesus was born in the Garden of Eden.  Telling the students of the conflict between Santa and Jesus, they seem to prefer Jesus and not to understand why there would be a conflict.
 
Interestingly, I had a student tell me that Jesus was born in a garage, which in modern terms is true.  A stable is what people parked their animals in, in the old days.
 
What Shall we do for Christmas?
Jenny and I got around to talking about this last night.  For Jenny, Christmas means that we get Friday off.  She asked me if I wanted to go out, do some shopping.  In the West, of course, this is not done.  I told her that I would prefer to stay at home which raises the question of what we are going to eat...
 
I am no source of the doing of other Wuxi Expats.  I have overheard that some are going to the Provence for a big dinner.
 
I will intend to enjoy my last semi-bachelor-don't-have-to-do-anything Christmas best I can.  I think next year I will have to start impressing the tradition, as it were, on Tony.
 
Tony and Jenny in a bus accident
Taking the bus to school yesterday morning, I thought to make an entry about how terrible and unprofessional most of the Wuxi transit drivers were.  I can't count the number of incidents, anymore, where I have seen a driver make a quick brake causing all the passengers to tumble over and gasp in fear.  How many times I have gone home and seen a driver acting like a F-1 driver because he wanted to go home and it was the final run of the day for him.
 
Well, yesterday, my wife and son experienced the height of Wuxi Bus Driver unprofessionalism when a driver, of a number 25 bus which was following too closely another bus, had to stop so suddenly that passengers were thrown on the floor.  Jenny and Tony were sitting and had a woman sit on them.  Two people, a passenger and the driver, had to be taken to hospital to fix facial wounds which had resulted in profuse bleeding.
 
Funny how my wife mentioned this story to me in passing.
 
Do people pleasantly surprise or disappoint you?
I may have told you that I have been more disappointed by the things people will do.  Maybe, it is something about being far away from home that does that to people.  Maybe, it is just an universal quality of man's fallen nature. 
 
The students, when I asked them this question at my English Corner last night, took a different view  -- a large majority of them told me that they were pleasantly surprised.  I suppose this is because they have low expectations of human nature to begin with.
 
When you have no expectations, you won't be disappointed.
 
Who has Christmas Day Off?
Foreigners in China may be given Christmas Day from their Chinese employers.  I am grateful to my school because I do have that day off.  Chinese employees of foreign companies may get the day off  -- for instance, Caterpillar employees in Wuxi.  But all schools and most companies will be operating as usual that day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another batch of photos taken at the 2009 HyLite Christmas Party



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Wuxi Tony Update #493: Tony and a Video Screen.

The Question: I remember it now!

Yes!  Now I remember the question.  Here it is:
 
It is about human nature.  I am very interested in it.  Asking whether you think people are good or bad doesn't get me great responses from students.  So I will have to see if this question works:
 
Do people surprise you or disappoint?  Do you surprise or disappoint yourself?  (I will provide more detailed explanations for the students using examples in hopes of getting thoughtful answers from them.)
 
My answer:  I guess I will sound misanthropic.  But, all in all, people disappoint me.  And when I remember that I am no different from other people, this statement is a slap of my face as well.  But we are all fallen creatures.  In the question, I take "people to surprise" to mean pleasantly surprise, and I will admit that happens.  And when it does happen, it is because I do underestimate people.  Sometimes I get an insight from an unexpected source.  And when I surprise myself, though, it is usually a very disappointing surprise -- I am not at all high and mighty as I fashion myself to be.
 
That is a short and sweet answer from me.  I expand and expand on this question with the students, hopefully getting specific examples from them.

AKIC Friday

I am in a holiday mood
My moods waver.  I am only in a holiday mood because I was in a bitter mood the day before.
 
Bloody Cold
It took a supreme act of will on my part to get out of bed this morning.  It was so warm under the sheets.  I felt like a warm hot-cross bun except for the fact that my feet were a little cold, but what I did then was, I scrunched up.
 
What was the Question?
Darn!  I had a good question worded in an understandable way for my English Corner tonight but I have forgotten what it is.  It wasn't about top-up or bottom-down, or what they know about the nativity, or whether Chinese behavior in traffic reflected their behavior everywhere, or making dramatic changes....  I had the question about 30 minutes but now it is lost!
 
But I am thinking....
 
Question:  Do you like changes? (That wasn't the question but it will do for the purpose of this blog entry)
 
My answer:  While I admit I am a conservative, I am not against change per se, but I am for trial and error in our approach to affairs.  Most of what humans do now is the result of previous trial and error -- we do many traditional things even if we forgotten why we originally started to do them.  The modern approach to change is wrong because it seems to assume to our ancestors were fools, and that we are somehow wiser.  As well, the change we get down is also top-down change that in the long run becomes resistant to change itself.  So many government departments are created, don't serve their intended purpose, don't go away as they would in a true trial-and-error process, and so become part of the problem  -- a special interest that becomes vested in the problem never being solved.  This what will happen to American Health care, I am afraid to say.
 
I will talk to students about trial and error tonight.
 
Wrestling with Tony
That is how I spend my time with Tony.  He seems to love it because he giggles and giggles and giggles.  (One of the students told me he should have been home with his daughter helping her do her homework instead of attending my English class.  Sigh!)
 
 

This Place has no soul. Confessions

What's Wrong with China
When I asked some students what their lives were based on, one of them said money.  I believed him, but he later claimed to be joking.  The Chicoms have created one of the most materialistic cultures in history.  But it is a materialism based on corruption and obedience.
 
Other students said they lived their lives on the basis of trying to be happy  -- I have no idea what they meant, and they probably had no idea what I was asking.  Of course, they were supposed to have studied the phrase "to be based" before they came to class.  I then asked the students of they thought their lives were based on Buddhist, Taoist, or Christian values, and I was told by them that the Chinese had no religions.  (I may have mentioned before that the students have no knowledge of the Nativity story. One student thought Jesus was born in Eden.)
 
The people who create traffic rules must pull out their hair when they look at what goes on in China.  I mention this because it does explain why I want to pull out my hair sometimes when I deal with students and our Chinese assistants.  The Chinese way seems to be cheat and skip steps in a process.  The process is something to be subverted blatantly.  I gave some student the shock of his life because I mentioned and chided him for doing something that was as blatant as running a red in from of a traffic cop.  In a class where the students are to make presentations, a student came in late, sat in the back, opened up his laptop, and worked on that instead of watching what was happening in the class.  I asked him what the hell he was doing.  He told me that he was preparing for his presentation.  He should have prepared for it before the class!  I glared at him and told him how rude he was being.  He then protested to my Chinese assistant in Chinese  -- it is the equivalent of talking behind your back to someone who is one of them.  But that is what the Chinese will do.  I should have kicked him out.  And my assistant was probably annoyed at me because ultimately the student took out his disbelief on her.  But it seems that the Chinese way is to actively subvert or corrupt the process all around. 
 
The Chinese resent the truth it would seem because it makes them lose face.
 
Something Big Happening?
Nothing really big is happening in the news lately.  It has been the same same-old.  Copenhagen is but a step down a precipice for mankind  -- nothing big in itself.  I can only pray that it ends a failure -- but like those E.U. referendums that you would think have proved that process fraudulent, the powers that be seem to want it to happen, come hell or high water.  Though, in this case, the high water that does come won't because of AGW.
 
I had a while back, based on a blog entry in Seablogger, agreed with the postulation that something once-in-a-lifetime was the works.  I am still waiting for it.  I find Obama and the Lefties, whose day it is now, too banal to write about  -- the idiocy of the Obama saga all is enough to make me give on altogether on following politics, and getting into religion and poetry.  And the silliness of the things that are happening now to me is a sign that a slap in the head for the presumptuous among us is coming.
 
Conversion
Trying to live a life of the spirit, has so far made me far more aware of my faults.  This is a good thing but I have to avoid slipping into despair because changing myself is such a hard thing to do.  When I lose my temper, it is so far hard for me to hold back enough to think before I act.
 
I keep praying in hopes I can raise to the challenges.  It seems I have been getting more of these challenges lately.  I have unfortunately shirked some.
 
Changes
My procedure for an English Corner is to take a topic and try to beforehand think of as many questions as I can about the topic.  It is amazing how often what you think is a good open-ended question that will generate lots of conversation from the student instead is met with blank stares of misunderstanding.
 
I suppose I should try to answer these questions myself before I try them on the students.  So here goes:
 
Question:  Could you start all over again?  That is, could you start all over again if you lost everything you had?
 
My answer:  I would have answered yes to this question when I was a bachelor.  I can even say that two times in my life, I have chosen to start over.  One time, I choose to go to British Columbia to find a job; another time, I choose to come to China for a lower-paying job and to find a wife.  I can say I accomplished what I set out to do.  Now, starting over again, would be much harder now that I have Tony and Jenny to think about.  I would have to move to my home country.  If starting over again, meant not having Tony and Jenny, I don't think I could do it  -- I would hope that my faith would save me, but it would be hard no doubt about it.
 
Chinese Study
Besides being lazy, I have made a big mistake with my Chinese study.  I choose not to study the characters.  I have started last week to do this, and it is amazing how knowing 30 characters, I am so keen to know more.  My forty minute bus ride to work is spent reading signs trying to guess what the characters mean.  I find that there are characters that are easily remembered  -- stand out as it were; and there are characters that you would think are almost impossible for a novice to remember.  Talking to Chinese people doesn't seem to interest me -- I have always been a reader.  So, I slap myself in the head for not bothering to have tried character recognition sooner.
 
 

Walking down a street in China and what do I see?

Walking down the Chinese street and what do I see?  

Vomit.  I always see vomit because somebody somewhere somehow bought some bad food probably from a road side operation.  

Feces.  One never knows if it is animal or human.  I have seen men shit in a bush in a park.  One time, I even saw used toilet paper in a bus just on the periphery of a government building.  In China, the parents don't put diapers on their babies  -- they have a slit in the seat of their pants.  One time, I saw a woman holding a baby have an exploding event and the woman experienced recoil like she fired a rifle unexpectedly.

Spittle.  The Chinese spit openly and loudly.

Snot.  The Chinese blow their noses with the strength of a fire hose.  Many don't use handkerchiefs.

Puddles.  Water is dumped on the road after restaurant workers clean vegetables.  Adults and lots of babies will urinate on the street.

Debris.  Sidewalks are poorly made.  They quickly deteriorate after being laid down.  So you see tiling, masonry and bricks broken off by cars and bikes and trucks putting more weight on roads and sidewalks than they could be expected to resist.

Trash.  Look in a gutter and what do you see?  A torn down building becomes a downtown dump.

Food.  You wonder if it is sanitary.

Cigarette Butts.  There aren't enough ashtrays in China.

Abandoned Work.  What I mean is workers often don't clean up after themselves.

Abandoned Shoes.  Some things are universal.

Insects.  You can see a piece of  food devoured by hundreds of ants

Rodents.  Downtowns attract people and rats.  Look in the bushes and you will see rats.

Dogs.  Ever see those movies where a gang of talking dogs go on a journey?  I swear I see these gangs in China all the time.

Wuxi Tony Update #492: Searching for Tony at the HyLite 2009 Christmas Party

I forgot to number this video which was a good thing because I had thought I had made a WTU 492.

In this video, you can watch a girl eating a burger with chopsticks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Batch of Photos from the 2009 HyLite Christmas Party

This is the uploaded batch of photos that I will show you. As soon as I can get the videos up on Youtube. You will see those as well.

Below are photos of some of the students who attended the party.


Notice that the girl in the photo below is eating a Chicken Sandwich with her chopsticks.



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J and T back in Wuxi

Well, my wife and son are back in Wuxi.  They attended the School Christmas Party after all.  With all the people there, Tony was shy.  But at the end of the evening, he became talkative and irritable.
 
I had three beers.  I am feeling it now, which goes to show ya.
 
Photos and Videos of all this to follow.  I first must attend to more pressing matters.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Busy Day

J And T Return
My wife and son return to Wuxi this afternoon.  I will have to rush out between classes to meet them at the bus station and pick up their luggage.

Christmas Party
My School has a Christmas Party tonight.  I was hoping Tony and Jenny could come to it, but their late afternoon arrival in Wuxi will make attending the party an great inconvenience for them.  They will have to go home and go back downtown again  -- two hours lost with little time to get washed and ready for the party.

Oh well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 18 AKIC Headlines

Students on Tiger Woods
One of the students said Tiger should join the Mormons because they allow a man to have multiple wives.  Another student then said he should become Muslim and move to Saudi Arabia for the same reasons.  The problem with the second solutions pointed out the other students that it would be a bad career mood in America.
 
J and T's return
My wife and son will return to Wuxi tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully, they can go to the school Christmas Party later in the evening, but they may not be up to it.
 
Wise Blood
I just watched a movie adaptation, on DVD, of Flannery O'Connor's novel.  The film made by John Huston had its moments, but I wish I had read the novel first.
 
Long Johns
On a day bereft of headlineable material, I will tell you I have been wearing long underwear the last few days.
 
No Headlines
I have been teaching and sitting at my desk applying myself to reading and study.  So not much for me to report.
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Third Blog Site

Check it out.  It is still a work in progress.

Middle December 2009 AKIC Links

Leftists like to call themselves middle-of-roaders, progressives, and liberals.  Roger Scruton, in the link above, has a better label for them.  The linked article also provides a succinct explanation of the differences in my positions from them.

Warren doesn't list Orwell among the Pantheon of writers but respects him.  I have always liked Orwell and have always been able to overlook his socialism and atheism.  But Warren looks on Orwell as a poet, and finds his political views commonplace.  So did Malcolm Muggeridge, in a way, I believe.  I remember MM noticed similarities between Orwell and the mystic Simone Wiel.  -- these two writers worked themselves to death.

This article, linked above, echoes observations and fears I have from living in China

GK Chesterton
That strangeness of things, which is the light in all poetry, and indeed in all art, is really connected with their otherness; or what is called their objectivity. What is subjective must be stale; it is exactly what is objective that is in this imaginative manner strange. In this the great contemplative is the complete contrary of that false contemplative, the mystic who looks only into his own soul, the selfish artist who shrinks from the world and lives only in his own mind.

I came across the following quote at seablogger:

The story of this ancient empire (The Mongols)acquires a renewed interest today because many of the conditions present in the vast, unsettled steppe superficially resemble the uncharted borders of the online world. In the 21st century just as in the 13th century, powerful ideological and economic forces move effortlessly across settled boundaries in ways that no single nation-state can easily control. It is interesting to speculate whether some deeply buried, subconscious memory of the peril of Xiongnu led the current Chinese government to establish the modern Golden Shield, otherwise known as the Great Firewall of China. It would be ironic if the most ancient continuous civilization on earth alone among all the rest truly understood the contemporary world.
 
"There are those who say there is no evil in the world. There are others who argue that pink fluffy bunnies are the spawn of Satan and conspiring to overthrow civilization. Let me be clear: I believe people of goodwill on all sides can find common ground between the absurdly implausible caricatures I attribute to them on a daily basis. We must begin by finding the courage to acknowledge the hard truth that I am living testimony to the power of nuance to triumph over hard truth and come to the end of the sentence on a note of sonorous, polysyllabic if somewhat hollow uplift. Pause for applause."
 
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war.

Elizabeth Bishop
The Art of losing isn't hard to to master
so many things seem filled with intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster
(From the poem One Art)
 

An AKIC Monday Dispatch

Bus Stories
I did make a good decision this morning.  Standing at the bus stop this morning, I saw my chosen bus, the #25, was packed and people were already standing.  I waited for the next bus, and I was able to get a seat so I could do some Chinese study -- I am working my way through this book of Humorous stories.  My Chinese study consists of three parts -- I read some text, I study a grammar, and I study a character book.

Getting a seat was a wise and fortunate thing for me because about three stops later, the bus was suddenly packed.  What had happened was another #25, maybe the one I choose to not board, had broken down.  Was happens in this situation (it happens often) is that all the passengers board the next bus.  This morning, it was quite the sight to see fifty people run towards the bus I was on.  I put my head down and studied my Chinese book intently.

There has been a rush to defend Tiger Woods from Wuxi Sexpats.  Thankfully, the Expats scandalized by his actions have buckled down and responded with righteous indignation. The link is in the headline.

Flannery O'Connor
About two weeks ago, I didn't know much about this writer except the name and that the writer was from the Southern United States.  I didn't know for certain that the author was female.  Now, I have read two of her stories, listened to a podcast about her, and yesterday purchased a DVD of a film adaptation of one her novels.  On the DVD, is a recording of her speaking and reading one of her stories.

When I had gone to the DVD store, I had been hoping to find something about Christmas, but nothing sufficed.  The Wise Blood DVD was the best possible purchase I could make.

Cold
I am cold here in Wuxi.  But I don't mind because I do like being able to dress for it.  But I worry about Jenny and Tony who are in the countryside now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Thinkings on an AKIC Sunday.

It's Quitting Time!
Some of life's incidents stick in your memory, and you don't know why.  As well, little expressions you hear stick in your mind, and you look for an opportunity to say them.  And if you have no opportunity, you say them anyway.
 
Watching GWTW with my wife, I saw a scene early in the movie where  Negroes working on a field (or should I say slaves?) and one of them says "It's quitting time!"  One of his companions, who says he is the boss, is annoyed at the breach of authority and then says the expression again to make it official.  I was reading the Chinese subtitles and asked my wife if they said "Xia Ban le!".  My wife immediately corrected my pronunciation, telling me I should have said "Shang ban le!".  Or it might have been the other way around.  One of "Ban le" statements does mean it is time to start work and the other means work is finished.  I was happy to be able to understand the character, though in context.  My wife in turn had to ask me what "quitting time" meant  -- I would have thought it was obvious.
 
The Wife and Son are away!
Even though Tony and Jenny will be in Beixing till Saturday, it won't mean much free time for me.  As it is, I can say I have wasted time I wouldn't have otherwise wasted if they were here.  Last night, I spent too much time on the computer trying to upload videos to Youtube -- I should have waited till this morning when the traffic in the developed world would have been light.  I downloaded the videos lickity-split this morning, as it was.  I have extra chores to do like laundry that Jenny would have done (God, how there is so much laundry hanging because it takes so long for it to dry!).  I also have the problem of having too many videos and reading and study to get to, and I don't think I have given any of these activities the full attention they require.
 
Trouble that they are to a man who has been a bachelor too long, Tony and Jenny force me to use my time better and not just for myself.  I can hardly wait till they get back.
 
A thought just occurred to me but the stupidest things that have been said to me (and I have heard many because I can't help but overhear Leftists and middle-of-the-roaders) was that I shouldn't have children.  I would have accepted being told this if I was told I wasn't competent for the job and the sacrifices it entails (it may well be -- my wife says so all the time), but I was instead given the Left Wing arguments about there being too many people in the world, blah, blah, blah, blah.
 
December 27 Marryings
A lot of people, I know, are getting married on December 27th.  I just received my second wedding invitation for that day.  Congratulations to Summer and Dan and Grace -- all of whom are getting married.  I don't know whose Summer's husband is, so don't think there is a three way Heinlein style marriage happening.
 
Podcast Listening
I could spend my time listening to podcasts downloaded off the Internet and not bother with DVDs, Blogging, raising a family, living in China, and reading.  These days, I am listening to these podcasts I was able to get off EWTN - a Catholic network.  I have just listened to podcasts about Catholic authors like Chesterton, Muggeridge, Pascal, Bernanos, Flannery O'Connor, Tolkien, and Waugh.  All these podcasts have spurred me on to the other things.  Of all these authors I have just mentioned, O'Connor is the least familiar to me.  I have just read her story "A Good Man is Hard to Find", and I am hooked.  I will have to find more of her stuff on the net or get my parents to send me more of her works.
 
With the exception of Orwell and Florence King, most of my favorite authors are Catholic.  I never intended it to be that way, but it is so.  Orwell, who was certainly anti-Catholic (he shrugs off Chesterton by saying GK was anti-Semitic), did have a poetic quality to him which David Warren, a loud Catholic voice, acknowledged recently in a column, which I will link in an upcoming entry.  King, an atheist to her bones, was nonetheless given the prestigious back page column by a Catholic William F. Buckley (that page is now given over to Mark Steyn, a Canadian).  King is a southerner like O'Connor, and something about the American South does cause it to produce some wonderful writers.  A theory about this is that the South lost the Civil War, and so was forced to confront itself in a brutally honest way.  My conceit likes to think that my Latvian heritage of losing, two wars and now a shrinking population Latvian population, can result in a similar brutal honesty from me.  But I have really broken from the Latvian aspects of being Latvian, I don't know the language or its customs, and have come to be just sentimental about it.

Tony sitting still

Anyone who has had a child in their two's will understand how much I appreciate my Tony sitting in his chair like he does in the photo below.

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Wuxi Tony Update #490: Tony and Morrissey

Tony and Jenny will be in Beixing till Saturday. I took this video and WTU 491 before they left.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Opinions

JK on GWTW
I got my wife Jenny to watch Gone With The Wind last night.  She had recently watched all three parts of the Lord of The Rings and asked me for some more epic entertainment on DVD and so I suggested GWTW.  Jenny did not like the beginning of the film finding Scarlett O'Hara is be "flighty".  However, the pregnancy of O'Hara's rival for the Leslie Howard character's affection, and O'Hara's behavior then got Jenny's  interest.  Jenny's final verdict on the movie was that it was very good.  Jenny also had a lot to say about O'Hara's motivations finding it sometimes understandable and sometimes not.  Like me, Jenny was affected by the death of the little girl in the riding accident.
 
Jenny's verdict on the movie confirms my suspicion that GWTW is the greatest Chick movie ever made.
 
The students on Tiger Woods
The Tiger Woods saga is actually a good conversation topic for my English classes and a good source of material for my blog. 
 
I would say that the students were somewhat aware of what had happened with Tiger when I broached the topic in class. 
 
The female students say that it was understandable that  his wife would attack with him with golf clubs but they didn't endorse the behavior. 
 
I am not sure why, but I have found that students telling me that Tiger's wife should find a new wife to be very funny.  She should marry Fuzzy Zoeller? I ask.  And yet I wonder why I think the idea of Mrs. Tiger Woods finding a new husband to be funny, when I wouldn't think the idea a wife married to some average Joe looking for a new husband to not be.
 
Asking the students if the scandal was really all that important, they all said it was because Tiger was a considered a hero and a role model.  On the suggestion of another teacher, I asked the students what would happen if Yao Ming was embroiled in a similar scandal.  I brought up the image of Mrs. Yao throwing basketballs at her husband's head.  One student said that such a scandal  involving Yao was inconceivable which answered my question.  Yao Ming would be similarly disgraced and deservedly disgraced if he acted like Tiger Woods.
 
 
In my mind, I wonder what parallels could be drawn between the Woods saga and Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.  I remember at the time how so many Clinton supporters said the sex wasn't important  -- let Bill do his job.  I don't seem to be seeing the same urge to defend Tiger.  For even in China, many were willing to give Bill the benefit of the doubt.  The general opinion here is that Tiger is toast.
 
I have one final thought comparing to Hilary and Mrs. Tiger Woods.  It is unfortunate that Tiger's wife is Swedish because she would make a better secretary of state that Hilary.  Tiger Woods wife has more balls.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

AKIC Friday!!

TGIAKICF!
It is the weekend for me but not for most of you, unless your days off are the same as mine.  Plans? None. Vague Plans?  Read short stories and Dickens's Christmas Stories; and hang out with my son, maybe even taking him out.
 
Changes
I have been trying to religiously follow a "To Do" list I have on my desk at work.  What I do is if I have something to do or want to do I put the item on the list.  If thing gets done, I cross it off.  If this thing is to be a daily occurrence (like Chinese Study or a daily chapter from a book), I move the item forward to my to do list for the next day.  If the thing doesn't get done but it is crucial that it is done eventually, I cross it off and move it forward.  I find it keeps me busy and my mind is racing with ideas.  I also find that I have given myself lots of time to read, but not to write or blog.
 
I will write the imperative "Google time management!" on my "To Do" list.
 
A Christmas Carol
Lazy as my Christmas will be, I am doing things in the Christmas spirit.  On my to-do list, I have written "email Christmas wishes to old acquaintance".  I have been crossing out the entry and moving it forward since I am making it a daily occurrence.
 
Doing this, I have something to tell that maybe should be written under the Changes headline.  An old acquaintance of mine who was politically a conservative twenty years ago when I knew him in Winnipeg.  He isn't now, which surprised me.  Why he changed is something I will have to ask him about.  Politically, my views have changed too so that I occupy his old position -- though of course mine is more nuanced.  It looks like we traded sides.
 
Another thing I am doing that is in the Christmas spirit is try to read Christmas stories.  I should also listen to Christmas Music but I forgot to put it on my to-do list.  Anyway, last night I finished reading Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  A great bit of writing by Dickens, and it was nice for me to see the specific details of a story I had assumed I knew by heart.  The ghosts of my life past have been visiting me lately.  Things that I would have liked to have forgotten, or attributed to myself in a foolish phase have suddenly hit me with the force of a slap.  Oh, how I have withered away so much time!  Oh, how presumptuous I have been!
 
I have also been asking students how much they know about the real Christmas story -- the birth of Christ.  I had one student tell me Jesus was born in the Garden of Eden.
 
On my "To Do" list, I should write "invite the three ghosts to make a visit."

Wuxi Tony Update #488: King Can of Pineapple Beer

This how the Kaulins boys spend their Saturday Nights.

Saturday Night Tony

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Funky AKIC Thursday Headlines

Funky?
If you say you are having a funky day, is it because the day is groovy, or is it because you are in a funk?  I prefer to be ambiguous about the issue.  It is not important anyway and so barely rates being mentioned.

Sensations on my bus ride home last evening
I felt joy because I was able to get a seat -- on a forty minute ride that is a very good thing.  I felt guilt because I was able to get a seat -- all those poor souls who did have to stand.  I listened to a podcast on my mobile phone as I sat -- this helped me to ignore the fact that others were standing  -- I also felt illuminated as the podcast I was listening dealt with issues profound:  debt.  I felt consternation as someone was leaning against my shoulder -- my instincts told me to stiffened my shoulder to stab the leaner in the back  -- experience told me not to because one time I actually did that to an old lady who got caught in the umbrella that was sticking out of my backpack.  I felt fear and disgust  -- there was this lady, seated behind me, who was a having a long fit of violent sneezing.  I was expecting some sneeze-induced projectile to land on the back of my jacket and hair from this lady.  Her sneezing was so strong and periodic that one would have thought she was practicing blowing a kazoo.  She wasn't too happy with the sneezing either, I could tell, because she was muttering in a frustrated manner between the sneezes.  I felt amusement as I heard her sneeze after I got off the bus.  I looked around to see who she was but I didn't see her because she was still on the bus.  Her sneezing was loud and startling even to people not on the bus.

Wei!
My son Tony knows to say this when he pretends to answer a phone.

Wet and then Cold
It is going to rain for a few days in Wuxi.  When that wet spell stops, a student tells me, a cold spell will begin.

Friday, December 11, 2009

An old photo of my father-in-law.

That's my father-in-law in the top row center wearing the light-coloured uniform. He was in the PLA.
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Wuxi Tony Update #485: Tony and Go Go

Go Go is Tony's favorite cartoon character, currently.

Sinatra's Birthday!

It is Frank Sinatra's Birthday today (December 12th).  I have no idea how old he is.  It doesn't really matter.  What is important with Frank is the music.  He is the greatest singer ever in my opinion.  

You can divide the world into two lots:  Sinatra Fans and everyone else.

Aggravations

Sore Foot
My right foot is sore making it hard for me to walk or stand.  I hope it is a sprain and not the gout.
 
Missing Card
I had spent the last few years thinking this card I had was in a certain place.  It turns out it wasn't.  Now, I don't know where to look for it.
 
Virus
I should be thankful I don't have a virus thanks to my anti-virus software.  However, the virus message pops up on this site I have been urgently trying to get to.
 
Spaces not blocked
I shouldn't complain about this.  But it feels bad to complain about something that ceases to be a problem.  One hates to lose that feeling of righteous indignation.

AKIC uninspired headlining

The Decade is ending
I was just reading a blog entry talking about the decade of 2000-9 ending.  I hadn't thought about the decade ending till the entry mentioned it.  I don't know if my lack of awareness is because at this stage of my life, time is flying, or because unlike the previous decades, the sixties, the seventies, and so on, you can't easily pronounce the number of 2000-9.  I mean, do we call this decade the noughts?  I haven't even thought of a way to assess the decade.  There was 9/11 and the Internet and Bush Derangement Syndrome descending into Oprah worship, but I think of the look and I think of nothing.  For me personally, it was a good decade.  I got married, I had Tony, and I created this blog.  I achieved my modest goals.  And I am beginning to work on my soul.

Awe? Yes, but I can't remember. 
A very basic topic, you would think, to get students talking can still see the Teacher have students who can, but won't talk.  Talking about Childhood memories, I had a student tell me he couldn't remember anything. That is, he had no good memories. (Was it because he had a bad childhood?  I don't know).  Just this afternoon, I asked students what filled them with a sense of awe.  I did a good job, I thought, of explaining what I wanted.  And the first two students I asked gave good answers.  But the third student said he could think of nothing.  I then asked him if he was ever happy.  He said he was.  I then asked him if he was happy because of something amazing.  He then told me amazing things made him sad....

Aagh!!

"I watched three hockey games!"
One of the other trainers told me he was so happy because he was able to watch three hockey games yesterday on his satellite t.v., followed by an N.F.L. game.  I didn't feel envious in the least which just goes to show you how my obsession with sports has come to an end since I came to China.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #487: Tony at a Playground

I took this WTU at a playground near our apartment in Wuxi.

Playing a flute with his nose

I should have taken a photo but as I was coming to work this morning, I saw a man playing a flute with his nose.  To me it seems remarkable, but then I know nothing about playing flutes.  

Wuxi Tony Update #486: Going to a local grocery store

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Make the world go away!

Crummy Day
It feels like Monday to me, this Thursday, because it is my first day back to work after my two regular days off.  As well, the weather is cold and rainy  --  a grey glum day.  Getting up was a chore I could have done without.

Blogging Plans
With my spaces site being blocked in China, I will have to change my blogging arrangements.  Things won't change that much for my blogspot site.  I have worked around its being blocked, but the only reason I have used spaces is to have a local China presence.  Not having that, I may stop posting to it.  The kind runner of wuxiguide.net has offered me some space on his site to run a local AKIC blog.  

Life without Tony
I couldn't imagine how I would live without Tony.  Without him, I would have gone off the deep end about two years ago.  With him, I have a reason to stay sane  -- something bigger than myself and my selfish desires.  Tony is a blessing.

My current reading
Currently, I am not in the midst of reading any book.  Having finished the Crichton novel, I read a bunch of short stories by various authors that I downloaded and printed off the Internet.  If I can find more stories by Flannery O'Connor, I would be tickled pink.  This one story I read, "A Good Man is hard to find", is haunting me still.

Tony's Vocabulary, and My Spaces Blog is blocked in China

Tony's increasing vocabulary
I can't keep up with all the words Tony can now say.  Here is a list of many that I can recall him using:  Cheese, Pee-Pee, Moon, Money, Apple, Towel, Tea, Ma (Chinese for horse), Daddy, That way, yi-er (one two in Chinese), one-two-three, Orange, banana, ball, DVD, bye-bye, nai (Chinese for milk), and water.
 
My Spaces Blog is blocked in China
It appears that my blogs aren't available in China.  Till yesterday, I had to use my spaces blog to communicate with expats in the Wuxi area.  Now, I can't even do that.  How long this blockage will last remains to be seen.  It may well be that I will be able to access the blog again tomorrow.  But my being able to access that blog by VPN indicates to me that something is up with the Great Firewall. 
 
Bastards!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cold and Damp

Staying Indoors
AKIC weekend sees the K Boys not going out into the great known and unknown.  Rain just isn't cool.
 
Dying Fathers
Someone tells me that a father they know is dying.  And then I receive an email telling me that someone else's father died.  Eerie coincidences.  That is the third episode of it that I have experienced this month.  Knock on wood for me.
 
On the Road
No, I didn't read a novel by Jack Kerouac.  This is an mention of Tony's progress towards entering the state of being toilet-trained.  When he feels the need to urinate, he goes into the bathroom and pulls down his pants.  His parents still have to hold him over the bowl, but he is on the road to being able to do it himself.
 
Blocked?
It appears that my spaces site is blocked in China.  Since yesterday afternoon, no one in Wuxi has been able to access it.  Please let me know if you can get the site in the rest of the world.  I have been maintaining two blog sites because of the Chinese firewall problem:  my blogspot site and spaces.  If this blockage problem persists, I will be without a site in China for expats there to read.  Other than my videos on Youku, I will have no outlet here.
 

AKIC Weekend Headlines

Rent a Book
A Childhood Memories English Corner I did recently was a good source of headlines for the blog.  One student told me his happiest childhood memory was being able to have the money to pay for the privilege of being able to read a book.  When and where he was in China, there were no libraries and people were too poor to buy books.  A man running a stall with twenty books could make a living, renting the volumes out.
 
State of Fear
I like reading Michael Crichton's novels, but so much for the plots or the characters, which I find lame.  I like reading his novels for the scientific asides.  And what with the Climategate scandal and the upcoming Copenhagen Global Warming Conference, the asides in the novel State of Fear, which I have just finished reading, are very topical.  To a skeptic like myself, the asides are glorious.
 
I will mention two asides from that novel which I find relevant and uphold my skepticism.  Crichton noted that the urban heat island effect has to be discounted when trying to measure changes in temperatures that can be attributed to Global Warming.  So, the Wuxi students who tell me they believe in Global Warming because of the how they have seen Wuxi become warmer, are only observing changes brought about as a result of the recent appearance of a large local urban heat island caused by Wuxi becoming a modern city.  Wuxi has experienced a local warming.  But ,to deny Global Warming is not to deny that there are Environmental problems.  Environmental problems of which there are many are local problems that should be solved by local means.  Global conferences seeking to solve these problems by mean of central control are egotistical and foolish to the extreme. 
 
In the second aside from the novel and of note to me, Crichton discussed the failed management of Yellowstone Park.  The park was created at the behest of railway concerns wanting tourists to ride their lines.  Yellowstone's subsequent history has shown that man can't manage wilderness as wilderness.  That is, nature acts in ways that man can't fathom and so the Yellowstone park management addressing one issue created another.  Killing predatorial animals resulted in an excess of Elk which resulted in a lack of grass......
 
Leslie Howard
Howard was a British actor who played a supporting role in the epic Gone With the Wind.  I imagine  he will always be remembered for that.  However, when I recently watched GWTW, I saw Howard and exclaimed "That's the guy who starred in The Petrified Forest with Bette Davis!".  I suppose I was looking at Howard's GWTW appearance from a backwards and uncommon perspective.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Early December quotes and links from AKIC

I like both the movie It's a Wonderful Life and the novel The Fountainhead.  Jimmy Stewart plays the classic good guy.  And there is something to be said for blowing up public housing projects because they are a drain on the human soul.  Be that as it may, we should strive to be like the Jimmy Stewart character instead of Howard Roark the architect.
 
Sonnet XVI by William Shakespeare

When  in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have express'd
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And, for they look'd but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing:
For we, which now behold these present days,
Had eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
 
 
Anyone who has tried to get on a bus or wait in line at McDonalds will appreciate the article linked above.



 
Chesterton on Saint Thomas Aquinas

His curiously simple character, his lucid but laborious intellect, could not be better summed up than by saying that he did not know how to sneer. He was in a double sense an intellectual aristocrat: but he was never an intellectual snob. He never troubled at all whether those to whom he talked were more or less of the sort whom the world thinks worth talking to: and it was apparent by the impression of his contemporaries that those who received the ordinary scraps of his wit or wisdom were quite as likely to be nobodies as somebodies, or even quite as likely to be noodles as clever people. He was interested in the souls of all his fellow creatures, but not in classifying the minds of any of them; in a sense it was too personal and in another sense too arrogant for his particular mind and temper. He was very much interested in the subject he was talking about; and may sometimes have talked for a long time, though he was probably silent for a much longer time. But he had all the unconscious contempt which the really intelligent have for an intelligentsia.
(*I always like these how-to-be passages and will always quote them when I can find them.*)