This is the last video of my Chinese New Year Odyssey to Beixing, my wife's hometown.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I gave Tony a stick to play with it and he wouldn't let go of it for an hour.
I hope to train Tony to be my enforcer. So be warned. If you don't get your daily dose of AKIC, my son Tony may pay you a visit.
You are well within your rights to not have anything to do with Facebook and Twitter. I find them useful but not addictive. I have been able to re-establish contact with people who I knew twenty and twenty-five years back. I do find Facebook's infinite number of applications to be annoying. On the Internet, I prefer simple. That is why, I am addicted to blogging and blogs. So much more to be garnered from reading a well-written blog than taking a "what kind of vegetable are you in bed?" quiz on Facebook.
I bought Yankee Doodle Dandy on DVD at the bin, I am always raving about, in the Nanchang Market. I had hesitated buying it before because I don't care for James Cagney. But a rave review on the Internet about the film finally prompted me to buy it. I also bought the Good Earth, Stage Door with Ginger Rogers and Katherine Hepburn, John Huston's Beat the Devil, and a Shirley Temple movie (maybe Tony will like it).
The reaction among the students to Obama's election has generally been favourable. They find my poo-pooing of him curious. I have warned the students about his connection with Unions who believe cheap Chinese labour is stealing American jobs. I also told a student today about a provision in the Stimulus package bill to keep only American workers stimulated. I have the students wondering now if it is a good idea for their government to continue to purchase American bonds - why finance a recovery that wants to shut Chinese workers out?
On a crowded Chinese buses, I often see people sneak onto the bus using the back door where the driver can't see them or can't be bothered to stop them. This morning, I saw three people try to get on the bus this way. The problem for them was that the back door closed so that their arms were caught. The driver had to open the door to let one person in but then quickly closed the door so that the second person of the three had his arm locked in the door. And so the driver had to open the door again. The bus engine then shut off. I couldn't understand what was spoken but the three men did have to push their way to the front of the bus to pay their fare unlike the many I have seen who don't.
This video was taken near Jenny's natural in-laws' house.
Friday, January 30, 2009
What does plugging away mean? I suppose it to mean that one never gives up and keeps on trying even in the most modest of circumstances.
Looking at this blog entry, these brief thoughts come to me about that phrase.
Tony gets hongbao. You can briefly see the interior of another countryside house.
This is the first WTU of the year of the Bull. It was taken on the main drag of downtown Beixing.
- We had no plans for January 28th. Thank God! I wrote in my book.
- On Day three, I was given at least 30 cigarettes. Disgusting. I smoked but one on Day Four. (*When the family K arrived back in Wuxi, we suddenly realized we all smelt like we had been to a bar for four days.*)
- On Day three, we were driven out to the real countryside to see Jenny's natural parents who she doesn't like. In the real countryside, there are narrow paths, sometimes paved over but more often consisting of packed-down dirt. There are plenty of houses made of brick and mostly not having heat like that of our natural in-laws. Every house has a cesspool or whatever you call the well-like holes you put shit in.
- I walked about for a short time with Tony but the countryside becomes monotonous - garbage, stagnant pools, old houses, and piles of building materials.
- I meet a Petroleum Geologist, a natural relation of Jenny's, who told me he is going to Iran because China has signed a twenty year deal with the Mad Mullahs. He gushed over the opportunity to try his English on me. He proudly told me he had spent four months in Beijing learning English. He later brought his daughter to talk to me in English, coaching her what to say, all the while insisting that this girl was the best English student in her class.
- At the big dinner, I was given the privilege of sitting beside an eminent local doctor who specialized in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The hosts then tried to get me drink baijoe, but I took one cup of wine which I nursed for the entire dinner. I saw the others at the table go crazy continually downing baijoe shots. I had to resist over and over again their efforts to join them in the "down" sessions. They later told me their exuberance was due to my presence.
- Tony seemed to have a good time out in the real countryside. He had lots to look at and explore. His presence made the time tolerable for me. Having to constantly supervise him also kept me occupied. I was amazed at how many more things he has learned to do. He now knows how to give. He knows how to pass things on. He knows to give and pass on when told. Jenny's natural father gave Tony a cigarette which Tony then gave to me. Tony was interested in the chicken and pigeon coops at the house. In the corner of the coop, I found a three foot long light hollow metal rod which I gave Tony to play with. He took to the rod like a fish to water. He walked about for an hour beating the ground with his new found toy.
- Speaking of fish, Jenny's natural relation's house had live fish in a bath tub. Thinking about this now, I wonder where the people would clean themselves but it is too bloody cold in the houses to bathe anyway. It is more practical to use the tub to keep fresh fish.
- We stayed at the house till eight p.m. I saw the countryside become pitch-black dark. I associate the darkness I saw with countryside that has a density of one house per square kilometre. But the countryside I had just seen in the day had hundreds of houses everywhere. Looking up, I saw a night sky full of stars - not since leaving Canada had I seen this.
- It was bloody cold. This "hardy" Canadian had to wrap himself in six layers of shirts and tops, long underwear, double sox, scarf, toque, and gloves while the locals were hat less and glove less.
- I enjoyed seeing Tony doted over although at the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think that these natural in-laws should have been a little more circumspect in their treatment of Tony since their biological claims of relationships with the boy had been forfeited when they abandoned his mother all those years ago.
- CCTV9, the Chinese Government English Channel, had an English speaking contest which I caught parts of. The contestants had to debate. One of the questions to be debated was "Should Beijing make subway rides free of charge?". The ensuing debate could only have happened on the left-wing portion of the political spectrum. The premises agreed to by all those present would have to have been debated first in a genuinely free and open debate. One of the foreign moderators made a comment, during the debate, that one shouldn't listen to Economists spout standard views from Economics textbooks - the Chinese had to be innovative. I would paraphrase that man as saying "let's ignore common sense. we need new ideas". I can recall making a tongue-in-cheek comment that CCTV9 was trying to be like the CBC (Canada's version of the BBC) and CNN. I was being flippant at all. CCTV9 tries to show the Chicom government as having the same governing policies as the American Democratic Party (the Democrats). Grandfather Wen must have gotten his schtick from Bill Clinton.
- Otherwise, Day Four was a waste. We went nowhere. I began to wonder why the wife hadn't bought a ticket to leave that day to go back to Wuxi. I had no urge to go anywhere for I had no desire to see garbage and feel cold pavement.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
- Day three saw me counting down the hours till we were to leave.
- My wife purchased the bus tickets for our Day return to Wuxi. I breathed a sigh of relief because there was a golden week holiday where my wife couldn't get a bus ticket prolonging a stay out in the countryside one more day. I was beside myslef with anger when I learned of the delay in departure.
- I took out my frustration that time on a bratty kid. His bad behavior made it easy for me. I hadn't seen this kid (he was in fact a nephew of mine) for two years till this CNY 2009. I was expecting some animosity from his parents but I got none. Telling this to Jenny, she told me the kid deserved the walloping I gave him. In that case I asked, why didn't his parents give me hongbao (a red money envelope)?
- This day we went to bed at 730 pm. As I have blogged before, in the Chinese countryside, when it gets dark, there is nothing to do. The cold made the bed the only place to be. And to be honest, it was nice to lay in bed with Jenny and Tony. The family being together quiet and relaxed, providing each other heat, is a great feeling. People who choose to eschew having children don't know what they are missing. The moment was something to appreciate. When I think of all the times before in my life when I couldn't have imagined it happening.
- I downloaded a lot of Dennis Prager podcasts to my phone. I learned that starting February 1st, I won't be able to get the podcasts of his show for free anymore. Shame! But he has to make money like I do.
- I spend the morning of Day 3 at Jenny's parents. I watched one episode of the Wire before the Teletubbies had to go on for Tony.
- Kosher Sutra. Prager talks to an orthodox Rabbi who wrote the book with that title. The key to keeping sexual intimacy in marriage is to keep things a mystery. Over exposure to sexual stimuli makes people jaded.
- In the afternoon, we were to go to Jenny's natural parents home. Jenny was in fact adopted by the in-laws I call my in-laws. Her natural parents felt they had too many girls - an attitude that unfortunately still exists in many parts of China. Jenny, of course, is resentful of her natural parents. She hadn't gone to their home for ten years previously. (*read the story of that visit in my day 4 entry*)
- When in the countryside, I try to eat and drink as little as possible. I don't the cleanliness of everything.
- Those who served with George Orwell in the Spanish Civil War, said he was always writing things down in his notebook when he occupied with military duty. Reading Homage to Catalonia, the reader can see how Orwell conveyed the banality and the boredom of the war experience. I can imagine that the rare reader studying this entry will also be conveyed a sense of banality and boredom in my CNY experience.
Is this an all too typical Wuxi Expat walking down the street? It isn't but it is a good representation. The pig which I saw walking down the street (there is also a video of this on Youtube) is in fact a stud. The minder was taking it to its next port of call. It was foaming at the mouth in anticipation of its' next conquest. Wuxi Expats generally weigh twice as much as the average local Wuxiren and sadly most are here for the sex.
I took the first photo on Day one of my CNY odyssey to the Beixing, China countryside. It took the second photo on Day Two. In between, the change from the Year of the Mouse to the Year of the Ox or Bull or Cow took place.
- I was listening to a podcast which raised the question in my mind of whether glorify the inauguration as a celebration of American Civic Religion and how far America has progressed on race, or to keep it simple in the manner of a modest commercial republic. I choose the latter.
- Glorify garbage men and cleaners. (*You have to see the mess the countryside is in to see what I felt it necessary to enter this thought in my diary*)
- In-laws have it good for them. They have a simple compound that satisfies all their needs. I have never lived in anything so primitive in all my life. Still, live in the countryside of China has improved. I tell myself to imagine how it would be in other times and other parts of the world.
- No hurry. It is not often I can be in that mode. Usually, I have somewhere I have to be.
- I didn't watch television this day and the fireworks bored me. The fireworks here were cheap. They were more noisy than flashy. I remember the fireworks shows in Canada and America drawing big crowds. I remember feeling cold about the show and annoyed about the inconvenience these shows generate.
- I did overhear someone on Chinese television say "Chinese people of all ethnic groups". This was on CCTV9, the English language channel which showed the CNY t.v. extravaganza with translation.
- Mass dancing. Lots of it in the CNY extravaganza. I also notice.
- Live in your mind, I tell myself. It is okay. Stop wanting to live in the mind of others.
- I am what I want to be. I have what I have always wanted now. I just need grace.
- Tony unscrewing bottle caps. I show him. I will always be a teacher. Teaching Tony is teaching I can look forward to doing.
- Listening to another podcast. I notice that is has been popular to use the word "boilerplate" to describe Obama's speeches. I used that word to describe 0's second book. What is "boilerplate"?". I must check.
- I got to visit some houses in the neighborhood. I almost enjoyed it. I became curious to see how others in the countryside live.
- Jenny has a dentist cousin in the army. His rank is Major or something like that. Jenny is not sure.
- I see a bunch of teenagers outside a school. How could this be? They are going to school this day, my wife told me. This is New Year's.
- A few of the girls look at Tony. His appearance excites women of all ages.
- Tony points to a jar of ping pong balls in a shop. I buy him two balls. He holds onto them until we get back to the in-laws.
This video was taken at my in-law's compound in Beixing, China. You can see Tony get the traditional red money envelope called hongbao. You will also see the compound and its' location in Beixing.
- We caught our bus at a bus station near Baoli Shopping Center. I had too much to carry.
- On the way to Beixing, we rode through Jaingyin where I saw a government building with a golden dome (the Chicoms love domes) and a stadium under construction.
- I played pool with my mother-in-law in Beixing. It just so happened that a pool hall is two doors down from her home. I beat her four straight games. I didn't bother to play her again. Tony loves the balls.
- Tony was scared of the fireworks.
- I passed the time on day one by listening to podcasts of Hugh Hewitt. Listeners accused him of drinking the Kool Aid because he wanted to be nice about Obama on inauguration day. (*No point in being nice now. 0 is a bastard trying Republicans not to listen to Rush Limbaugh*)
- Everyone was giving me cigarettes. Taking Tony for a walk, he wandered into a stranger's house. Two men gave me cigarettes.
- It was bloody cold in the countryside! I was wearing five layers and double socks.
- The K family went to bed at 730 PM. Once it is dark in the countryside, there is nothing to do. It was nice to hang with Tony and Jenny lazily - usually I never have the time.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
The Kaulins Family: Jenny, Tony, and Andis will be in Beixing (part of Taixing which is near Jiangyin), Jiangsu for the Spring Festival aka Chinese New Year Holiday. So, I won't be able to make any blog entries for five days. You can expect lots of photo and video and complaints when I return.
The school was slow today. I had one person show up for my movie class which means I can show the same movie in the next class and save myself the bother of preparation. For some reason, I thought the big CNY suppers would be Saturday night but talking to the students I realized I was mistaken. The Chinese will gorge themselves Sunday night which means I am not off the hook when I go to Beixing tomorrow.
John Derbyshire, conservative and something of a Sinologist (he is married to a Chinese woman) says that the symbolic animal of the Chinese New Year will be the Bull. I had been wondering if it in fact it would be the year of the Ox or the Cow. Now, I have three choices. If it is the year of the Cow, I would be making the lame joke, all year, about how it would the year of the fat chick. If the next year is the year of the Ox, I would be talking about climate change oxen getting their Al Gored. And if next year is to be the year of the Bull, well, you can just guess what joke I would make. The way things are shaping up these days in the world of politics and economics, I would assume the Bull will be the appropriate animal for many reasons.
The sad part for me about having to go to Beixing is that this blog is threatening to have record monthly numbers for visits and page views this month and so the lost of five days of blogging may cost me the record. I hope you rare readers can comb the AKIC archives to help me achieve new monthly highs.
I had a student from my school sit beside me on the bus ride home this evening and tell me some things about Chinese dialects that I hadn't given much thought to before. The student told me that his parents want him to marry a Wuxi girl because they can't speak Mandarin. His parents can only speak the local dialect which means that the only people who can understand them are in Suzhou and Shanghai. I asked the student how this could be. He told me his parents were workers who hadn't progressed beyond middle school in their education days. While his parents can understand Mandarin (how could they watch t.v. if they didn't?), they can't speak it very well and their accents also make any attempts at Mandarin speaking difficult. I could only think to myself how limited his parents' horizons must be. I can converse with people from America, Australia, and England, all countries being very far-flung from each other while his parents are restricted to a small portion of one province in China.
Friday, January 23, 2009
This is the last WTU I will post for five days or so. Tomorrow morning, the K family is going to Beixing (part of Taixing) for the Chinese New Year.
Be that as it may, this is first time I have written a birthday blog entry for my wife, and even though I should have written one sooner, later is better than never. Here comes a tribute:
She is a great mother to Tony. Her taste in decorating the apartment is flawless. Her efforts in looking after Tony and the apartment are tireless. She is an excellent judge of character. Those who have earned her ire, deserve it. (Pity she wasn't around during the Cultural Revolution for she would have put a stop to it.) She is slim and beautiful. Her only fault is her treatment of me: she displays a tolerance that even a American Liberal would call naive.
I am the luckiest man in the world to be married to her. I have made few correct life choices in my life except listening to Rush Limbaugh, and marrying her.
Here is a famous poem about a Jenny by Leigh Hunt:
Happy Birthday Honey!
I still have a day to work. Saturday night when I get home I will be packing for my three or four day trip to the countryside to see my wife's relatives. I am not so excited about it. I hope I don't freeze, Tony survives, and boredom doesn't get to me. I hope their DVD player works.
A cold spell appears to have descended on Wuxi. I had been discarding layers the past week but I will have to be put them on again. I am looking at a minus fourteen wind chill on my electric bike ride home tonight.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
For instance, this morning waiting to catch the bus a nice thing happened to me because of a patience that is abundant in the iron strength quality of my personal character. Walking to the bus stop I saw twenty people waiting, an incredible amount of people in the neck of the Wuxi woods that I am living in currently. Unfurrowing my brow about half a percent of a millimeter, I thought of the travails that a bus ride was going to have for me this day. Then my bus came. I choose not to join the twenty people, many with luggage, board that bus. "Wait till the next", I, my personal General Patton, ordered myself. And my wisdom was rewarded, as not three minutes later, another #25 bus (the bus I was waiting for) came. The bus had vacant seats. I could not believe my good fortune.
I have done another interview of one of the female staff who works at my English. Snowie was once an airline stewardess for for UAE airlines.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Now that 0 is in charge of the world, I have to change my manner.
"Oh no!" she exclaimed, "I left it in Connie's office!".
"I'm sure Connie will get the toy to us later", I replied.
"Tony don't like the Giraffe toy."
"Why?", I asked.
"We can't understand it. It is speaking in Cantonese!"
"Oh!" I said, quickly realizing that I had something to talk about in my blog.
Shopping at Carrefour the week before the start of the Spring Festival is hell. Crowds and crowds of people and you have to wait fifteen minutes to get through a checkout. I did it today. We had no choice since Wednesday was the last possible day we could go shopping before Sunday, the first day of the year of the cow or ox.
We then took a taxi home from Carrefour. At one point during the ride, the taxi passed a van on its right. The van was in a position where you couldn't be sure if it was going to veer right or leftwards (lane changes are often done without turn signals). But just as the taxi was in the blind spot of the van, it veered right. The taxi driver honked his horn which is often done in China to warm drivers ahead someone is behind them. The van however kept on creeping rightwards and so the taxi accelerated to pass the van. As we passed, I noticed that a passenger sitting beside the driver was sticking her nose in the windshield and thus blocking the driver's view of the mirror. Yet, the driver continued to go rightward anyway. Bizarre. Only in China.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Above display is close to my school. It was only installed today.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Wuxi Tony Update #265 marks the end of an era.
Tony is in fact smiling because I am pointing the camera at him. Is he vain like a model? I should hope not.
Like, Warren, I will look inward. Last night, on my ride home, a couple on a electric bike wiped out beside me. I and the tricycle driver beside kept on going. I should have stopped, even if my poor Mandarin would have made the situation awkward. Maybe, I have been in China too long. Remember this rare reader, if I get too high, mighty, and haughty. As a human, I can easily forget my bad moments or rather chose to ignore them.
I think I will show the Wuxi of Oz for my last movie class of the year of the mouse (or is Rat!). I can't show Saturday Night Fever.
Tomorrow will be my day off, but it will be a busy day for me. The K family will go downtown to do some shopping. We have to buy a lot of things for the Spring Festival and our visit to the wife's hometown. I also have to get my hair cut. I hope I can see some attractive street displays marking the coming of the year of the Ox (or cow?). So far, I have yet to see any.
The corner where they had a wonderful display of mice last year is now without ornamentation of any kind leading me to wonder if the Wuxi government has blown its wad on construction. Right now, the town has empty lots ready for buildings.
Oh! I can't help myself. But this is vomit-inducing. This is a passage from a letter 0 wrote to his daughters and should have keep private:
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make
my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the
two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those
smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all
my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the
greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own
life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every
opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's
why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in
Elsi is the head Study Advisor at my school and a great interview.
Other than that, why am I making this blog entry? I feel that if I do have spare time, I should be adding something to this blog. Truly, I should make an entry when I have something worth saying, which you can read now that I don't.
Here's an thought: Thinking about the film Saturday Night Fever, I will say that it did accurately convey the excitement of going to a dance club on a weekend evening. I think of myself in my dance club days and I despise everything I did. I worried about things that were so unimportant. Even if I had tales to tell similar to the scenes shown in Saturday Night Fever what would be the point now? With Tony and Jenny, I know what I have to worry about and don't waste my time chasing false idols or dreams. (The exception being this blog which is chasing a dream I had of literary stardom. But the blog does have a world wide if not world deep readership, with which I can be happy in a modest way.)
I like China because, for me, it is a small enclosed world where few bother me and my conceits can be maintained in splendid isolation.
Tony, the little bugger, always wakes up with a smile on his face.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I can say I saw the Cardinals play once. I once went down by myself to Seattle to watch the Seahawks play the Cardinals in an exhibition game. Maybe, there were 20,000 fans in the stands. The game went into overtime but no one was stirred enough to stay except perhaps me and a few others. Now, the Cardinals will be in the big game with millions watching. I hope they beat the Steelers. The photos I have seen of a Pittsburgh player having long hair hanging out the back of his helmet is plain ugly and unmanly.
Government is a necessary evil, nothing more, nothing less. The inauguration of Obama should be a simple affair. Even the fact that Obama is the first black president should not make this inauguration any more special. I like John Derbyshire's ideal of America being a simple commercial republic with a government so limited that half the population can't be bothered to know the name of their president. Instead, what is happening is a coronation celebrating the power of the executive branch of the American federal government. The power of that executive and the other two branches has become more than a sane person should have to bear. The inauguration will truly be a sad spectacle with a King a self-congratulating mob.
I first watched Saturday Night Fever which strangely enough I had bought on Saturday night in downtown Wuxi. SNF is a excellent movie. Watching the film, I was surprised to see how a smaller proportion, than one would expect, of the movie had to do with disco. Its' story could easily have been set in another fashion era. My favorite scene was when the Travolta character Tony Maniro, sitting on a park bench looking at a massive suspension bridge, tells his love-interest-slash-dance-partner how the bridge so fascinates him. A scene I can relate to because I have been accused of having a fetish about bridges that one person, I know, said bordered on a fascination with the common place. It is too bad I can't show the film in my movie class because it is too vulgar.
I then saw an old black-and-white film The Petrified Forest starring Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, and Humphrey Bogart. The film takes place at a service station in the desolate Arizona desert. The film's plot turns on two visits to the station. The first is made by a hitchhiker with a British accent. The second is made by a criminal gang in the midst of a manhunt. The first visit sees the Davis character fall for the Brit. The second visit sees the Brit return to the station to save her. The attraction of the film for me was the literary and articulate British character Alan Squirer played by Howard. Squrier quoted a poem by TS Eliot which I love: The Hollow Man. I won't give the ending away but it was a film well worth watching. Unfortunately, I can't use it in my movie class either because there is too much dialogue
If forced to choose between which film to watch, I would have to go with the Petrified Forest. Watching SNF, brought back crummy memories from my formative years when I would go to the dance clubs. None of the characters in SNF seemed to say to me: this is how to be. The performance of Leslie Howard in the Petrified Forest greatly fascinated me. I can see myself imitating his ironic and detached manner for a few days.
So far, I have had one man volunteer to be Josie's boyfriend. I was expecting a torrent of requests. Watch this video all the way through to see Josie and her astounding admission.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I took this video during my Saturday night jaunt in Downtown Wuxi.
We first went to a Muslim Restaurant on JianKang Road near Xueqian Road and the restaurant where we had our wedding party. I took Wuxi Tony Update #264 there. The food there was great but my bad cold prevented me from enjoying it to the utmost.
Having eaten, we walked to the hair salon which happened to be near the Blue Bar, a popular Wuxi Expat pub. I thought it would be a good idea to maybe take Tony to the pub while Jenny got her new hairdo. First though, I did some DVD shopping. I found a copy of Saturday Night Fever which I immediately snatched up. The film is on my short list of must buy movies especially after John Derbyshire gave it a rave review. I also bought a Abba CD. I remember being in the Ikea in Nanjing hearing Abba and wondering why they didn't sell their CDs there. I then took Tony for a long walk, feeling reluctant to go to the Blue Bar, remembering how Tony ends up having fits in smoky places serving alcohol. I wasn't in a social mood either, what with my cold.
So I walked around the block, deciding to visit another DVD shop. The proprietor was quite taken with Tony as many Chinese are when they see him. I then felt obligated to buy a DVD, finally choosing a Thomas and Friends DVD for Tony to watch. (Later that evening, I saw that he did like watching the train stories.)
Tony is a heavy bugger now, so I finally entered the Pub to wait for Jenny to finish her session at the hair salon. The Blue Bar is a place I had gone to on a regular basis before I got married and the arrival of Tony. My trip there last night was a rare event. Several of the patrons seemed familiar to me, but only on sight. I, of course, saw a couple trainers from work there. Stewart, the Blue Bar owner, seem impressed by Tony's size. Tony attracted the usual bunch of woman. One girl who who came to hug and caress him was particularly attractive, but he wanted nothing to do with her. He seemed more interested in the two cats which Stewart has living at the bar. Amazingly, Tony was gentle with them. Only one time, did he try to spank them. I enjoyed seeing Tony's amusement at the cats, but it still seemed incongruous to have him in the pub. Most of the expats there seemed to the sort that have escaped the responsibility of having them. I sipped on a beer which was okay. But I nearly fell off my seat when I was charged 20 rmb for a glass of orange juice which I bought for Tony but he didn't drink. Tony, after playing with the cats, decided to hang out at the pool table. We eventually had to leave the pub because Tony suddenly wanted to handle the balls which was too distracting for the players.
Jenny was at the salon for almost three hours. I was ready to go home after two. She had phoned, at one point, to tell me that she would be done in 30 minutes when I was hoping to hear she was finished. I eventually returned to the salon to wait out the session. I watched Tony wander around the salon including when he decided to climb the stairs to get to the second floor. Just as Jenny was finally finishing the session, Tony took a large empty water bottle (the kind you put on office water coolers) and started carrying it around in his arms. He then tried to take the water bottle up stairs. It was interesting to see him try to figure out how to do this. He carefully put the bottle on the next step before maneuvering himself up. After a few steps, he found his rhythm. I taught him nothing.
My wife wanted me to get my hair cut there but I didn't want to. Too often, the stylists use scissors when what is needed is a good hair clipper.
Earlier in the day, I had listened to the latest edition of Radio Derb. Derbyshire expressed satisfaction the the Israelis have bombed some U.N. facilities in their war with Hamas. He then wished the I.D.F. could bomb the U.N. headquarters in New York City.
I share Derbyshire's sentiment. The U.N. is a hopeless joke. Problems happening anywhere in the world cannot be solved by the U.N. because it is a slow-moving bureaucracy full of corruption. So the U.N. report proclaiming China to be the key to easing the global recession fills me with foreboding. The exact opposite will surely happen: the recession with pound China to a pulp.
Anna is getting married. Josie isn't.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I could attribute the cold to one of three causes: Tony, the bad Wuxi air, or the unsanitary conditions that you just can't escape.
The wife tells me she heard on the news that a four year old child choked to death at a Wuxi supermarket. The child had put a small fruit in its mouth. That is a parent's worse nightmare come true.
Here is George W. Bush's final speech as president. It reads better than any of Obama's speeches. I hope I will have time to make my own tribute to President Bush. For now, I will link you who care to this one. I think there are many Chinese who may not know it, but they have a lot to thank Bush for.
Tony fell asleep in my arms tonight. That is all I need now on a Friday night.
The Catholic wannabee in me hopes the Cardinals can make it to the Super Bowl.
Tomorrow, I will show the film Jaws in my Saturday afternoon movie class. I hope it scares the pants off the students.
I continue the sub-series of interviews I am doing with Lisa as we get driven to do classes at Littelfuse in Wuxi, China. I ask Lisa what she will do for the Chinese New Year holiday.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. The wife is mad at me because I can't make him Tony eat. He runs away when I bring him some egg. I try to stuff the food in his mouth and he resists violently. What's a guy to do?
And he is spitting out food now. The bugger!
The news is too depressing to contemplate.
Pittsburgh-Philadelphia in the Super Bowl?
We have a flat-screen t.v. mounted the wall, in front of which is a t.v. stand. Tony has been climbing on the stand the past week in what is a new and dangerous precedent for him and his parents.
Yesterday, the wife bought bus tickets to go to Beixing on the 25th. My CNY plan, or rather my wife's, is to go to Beixing, her home town, for three or four days. Just my luck, she got the last tickets available.
The wife has gone to the market to buy food. It is just Tony and I at home.
In this recent column where Paglia responds to letters, one reader commended her for a piece called Revalorization of the trades. Said the reader: Time to remove the stigma and recognize trades for the skilled and professional work they are (and to bring that level of professionalism to them). The letter made me think about what they do in China. Many of our students have degrees in things like HVAC and air-conditioning. I had the attitude that it was a joke to call these trade diplomas, degrees. But I now realize that it is not such a bad idea after all, and the Chinese are right to give degrees for this learning.
I didn't see any cure Ox or Cow displays to mark the oncoming year of in Wuxi today.
Wuxi drivers are the worst drivers I have ever seen. This happened to me tonight: on my left was a car cutting me off; on my right at the same time, a bicycle was passing me as I was swerving to avoid the car. Are Wuxi drivers short-sighted, or stupid? I can't figure it out.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Now I interrupt this entry to record WTU 263...
In WTU 263, which I will upload after publishing this entry, Tony has earned himself the nickname Tony the Terrible.
I haven't seen as many Oxen as one would expect given that next year is the year of the Ox in China.
From Seablogger, I learn that the Tax Cuts the big 0 has promised are not really tax cuts at all. Corporations don't have to pay taxes if they don't lay off workers or hire more workers. I think the corporations would be better off to pay the extra taxes and not have the government play a role in the day-to-day operation of their businesses. And as Seablogger says, these Leftist tax cuts are incentives to keep the status quo. Recessions and downward portions of the cycles of Economic growth are markets telling us that change is needed. Obama: Status Quo that you can believe in (I heard Christopher Hitchens use this phrase just recently).
In this article, David Warren observed a phenomenon in Canada, that I have seen often in China, that of people entering the back doors of buses in order to avoid paying fares. Warren called this a sign of societal decay for Canada. What does this mean for China? The driver in Warren's story does have the gumption to confront the three punks who tried to avoid paying fares. The driver in China wouldn't bother. There are simply too many people on the bus for him. Enforcement in China is often lax because of the huge population.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Last night, I learned from some their employees that the President and CEO of Seagate has just retired and resigned. The students expressed anxiety about what these events mean for them.
I still feel a blogger's block which is unfortunate because this site has been getting good numbers the past week. The plug from Duff and Nonsense! must be credited for this. Am I flinching because I am in a spotlight? I hope not.
I must thank all the anonymous(es) for their comments both sympathetic, mean, and indeterminate. To one commenter I must say that I have no intention, despite my carping, of moving back to Canada for a while. Things are just too interesting in China for me to want to leave. As well, My wife seems happy with her situation and having Tony is all the motivation I need to go to work. Plus, I just don't know what I would or could do when I got back to Canada. Andis Kaulins in Canada doesn't have the ring to it that my blog's current title does.
That story about the husband suing the wife in a divorce case over a kidney proved to be a good conversation starter in an English corner I did this evening. The students all seemed to agree that the husband was nuts. I then put forth the statement that buying expensive gifts to save your love (marriage) is a bad idea and I found most students disagreed. The ones who agreed did make some good points like: buying an expensive gift simply sets a precedent and if the relationship continues the gift-giving must continue at the expensive pace; and the gift may not be seen as a great gift but as an expensive chain.
Another thing happened today that I can write about. (This blog pulls its' punches, believe or not.) A had a student made the following sentence: In my university days, I told my roommates ghost stories to threaten them. She was mistaken about the word "threaten". I hope my readers see her mistake. Or do you? Or did she really mean to use the word "threaten"? I wonder.
Since I don't have a copy of the Bible with me in China, I will read Atlas Shrugged instead. Seablogger linked to an article that said there was a poll taken in the early 1990s that had A.S. listed as the second most influential book in the U.S.A. after the B, or I should say the H.B.
I bought four more old movies from the bin on the top floor of the Nanchang book market in Wuxi, China: The Diary of a Country Priest; The Snake Pit with Olivia De Havilland and Leo Genn; The Country Girl with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby; and The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. I hope I have time over the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) festival to watch them. (My wife is watching Desperate Housewives on DVD as I type away so I can't watch them now).
It is going to be the year of the Ox after January 26th.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Tony had a big poo tonight. He soiled all his clothes and so Jenny had to give him a bath. He had no conception of the damage he had done - he was smiling in a mischievous sort of way when I arrived home.
I have lost blogging momentum because of the Chinese New Year Dinner we had on Saturday night. You can visit here to see the photos if you haven't already. You may have to go back a page on that site to see all the photos.
I am going to miss George W. Bush! Not that he is my first choice to be the U.S. president (I say Sarah Palin in 2012!) but the Big 0 looks primed to make W's spending seem thrifty (and I can't defend the spending that happened in the W years). New Deal II will mean the tens will be a replay of the thirties.
I passed a confrontation between a policeman and a citizen last week while on my way to work. The man was screaming at the cop who was soon supported by six more men in police uniform. The argument was in the area of the train station and thus a place where large numbers of people gather these days.
The Eagles will play the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. Who da thunk it? I hope the Eagles win. It would be a great story if the long-losing Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl but then the Cardinals would be just another franchise that has gone to the Super Bowl one time. Better for the Cards never to go.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I am spending my morning, listening to pod casts (Radio Derb, Hugh Hewitt, and Shire Network) in between pulling Tony from harm's way. I have just learned that Christopher Hitchens has listened to the famous British Rock band, The Who. I thought of him as a guy who didn't because I have a hard time accepting that the really thoughtful people listen to rock and roll.
I have to go. Blogging, thanks to Tony, is inconceivable at the moment.
I haven't been back to Canada in over four years. I miss the food. I miss the open spaces. I don't miss hockey.
In fact, I am finding that I care less and less about sports, the longer I stay in China. One reason for this is that I don't watch sports on television anymore. Another reason is that is hard to get video feeds on the Internet. I will look at the results of the NFL playoffs but I have no emotional attachment to any of the teams.
I expect 2009 to be a horrible year, news-wise. The Big 0 makes me want to gag as the expression goes. This entry from Seablogger doesn't subtract from my pessimism. The Big 0 has unmitigated evil intentions, whether he knows it or not. If 0 was as smart as they say he is, he wouldn't talk like a Marxist.
I took Tony and my wife to my school's Chinese New Year Dinner last night. You can check out some photos from the event here. Tony doesn't seem to enjoy going out that much. After a while last night, he was inconsolable. Jenny and I couldn't stop him from throwing fits.
Wuxi locals will try to defend their indefensible driving habits. One student today told me that there is a greater proportion of professional drivers on Wuxi roads than in North America who are able to take risks ordinary drivers in Canada and America wouldn't dare dream of.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
Not that I don't like the other Brits who read my blog and think me not so level-headed. But that is what happens when you have opinions.
Meanwhile, here is a blog of domestic bliss from Hungary that is worth checking out.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I have to bone up on Waltz Sing Matilda which is what the foreign teacher's department will sing at the Dinner tomorrow.
Why sing that Australian song? The majority of trainers are from Australia and it is the only song they may know. Canadians are quick-studies.
From Seablogger, comes this depressing economic forecast - there are more bubbles yet to burst.
This is John Derbyshire's take on the Palestinians - there is no need to feel sorry for them.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Radio Derb is putting its transcripts on the web. If you are smart, you should be pleased to know this.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Eggs are not sold in cartons in Wuxi, China as they would be in supermarkets in Canada, America, and presumably Europe. Some supermarkets will sell them to you in a saran-wrapped tray. Small corner stores will sell the eggs to you individually, giving you a plastic bag to put them in. You pay for the eggs by weight.
The eggs are stored in plastic stackable crates, that I have seen used to transport milk bottles and soda bottles as well. I have seen the crates transported by bike and truck around the city, in all kind of weather. So when you take the eggs home, you have to clean off dirt and grime from various sources.
Which side are you on? asks seablogger. Like seablogger, I am no longer on the side of secular humanism. The break happened to me in the late eighties and early nineteen nineties. The loss of the Sandinistas in the first election, listening to Rush Limbaugh, and my realization that the left was in fact more hateful and intolerant** than the right and conservatives lead to my current positions on matters.
**The use of intolerant as a pejorative has always seemed illogical to me, but I persist in using in the illogical way in the above sentence. One should tolerate the good and be intolerant of the bad. Surely, the Leftists who like to insult people by calling them intolerant don't mean to say that is bad to not like things that are bad. I believe that is necessary to be intolerant in certain situations.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that Chairman Mao had tried just this sort of thing with a complete lack of success.
The bike ride home tonight was yucky. It rained, it was cold, and my rain coat was torn.
I will also ask the students if they think the bad economic times will continue.
Rain in January is not a good thing for me. I am dressed for a Canadian Winter; I am not dressed for the rain.
It rained today making for a terrible ride to work.
I look forward to the school's Chinese New Year this Saturday (the 10th) evening. I will be able to show off Tony to all the staff.
Seablogger has converted to Catholicism. Something I have thought of but lack the courage to do.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Imagine: spur on the economy by having more holidays! If it works, I am all for it.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Tony wet the bed prompting a late-night/early morning evacuation of the bed. I feel it now.