Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chicken Curry

The wife made Chicken Curry yesterday. Yum.

A poll of four business class students showed they all supported what ever President Oprah was doing about the economy. There was no point in arguing - none of them would have understood.

To teach English, the students must be made to understand that they have to work at it and develop good study and speaking habits. Discipline! Discipline! Discipline! A teacher won't do anything to get them to improve till they do this. They can have fun learning if they want. But the fun would be so much better if it had a structure and a purpose, not a hairy-fairy wish that the mere act of talking will somehow magically make them better English speakers.

Furthermore, grammar is important. It is part of the structure and discipline of learning a language. And strangely enough the structure can improve one's imagination. Which is also important in using the language to best communicate.

Weather wise (this is an indication that I have nothing to blog about), it is still cold and wet in Wuxi. I would like to take my bike to school again but it looks like I will have to wait.

February was a very good month for AKIC.

Although the numbers are really modest, this graph illustrates a big jump in numbers for my blog. Thanks to all who have visited.

More Links. Atlas Shrugged. Morrissey DVD. To Hell with being nice.

You could have knocked me over with a leather cheese stick. I have been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for months on end. Savouring and rationing it like fine wine. And wouldn't you know it? These days, Rand's Atlas Shrugged has become the book de jour for those distressed by the regime of President Oprah. Ever strong sales of the book have tripled. Says Seablogger, Reading that book is the ideological equivalent of training with a gun. It is armament for the ordeal ahead.

Now, I got the book. All I need is to get me a gun. Although, being China, the people I need to fight are few and far between. I really am disinterested in what happens here. It is only for me to observe and comment on. I have no illusions of changing things.

Speaking of Morrissey, I did pull out a DVD of videos from his solo career that I happen to have. I watched and listened to it with Tony for about four songs. Tony was interested enough that he sat in my arms and didn't budge an inch. I hope he doesn't think that the man in the videos was his father in his younger days and that his father was somehow poncey. I watched enough videos to see his silly leftism shine through. "We won't vote Conservative because we never have!" A rhetorical victory in song there......not!

This link spoke to me about my life. The culture of political niceness has made British classrooms into disorderly torture chambers where no one learns anything, especially how to behave. But trying to be nice, authority has vanished and anarchy reigns. It seems you can't get some people to do even the smallest, you would think, reasonable civilized act except by pounding them over the head with a baseball bat or kicking them in the ass. It a lesson that life keeps slapping me in the face with whether it has been with roommates or co-workers or any other acquaintances. Most people don't play nice. And it is usually the worst of people who will insist most on niceness. Niceness is a sham. One lesson I hope I can impart to Tony is never ever be a position where people think you are a nice guy. Better to be called all the names in the book because you are like General Patton or an old-school Sergeant-Major.

Check out this link.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Morrissey and Philip Larkin

In my younger days, I had an anthology of poems by Philip Larkin, and the albums and DVD videos of the Smiths and Morrissey. I nearly fell off my seat when I saw this article about them in the conservative City Journal.

They are both morose little-Englanders in their own way says the article. In my time, I have found moroseness an attractive trait.

But, my readings of late and my conservative/libertarian leanings have seen me drift away from Morrissey. He tried to promote animal rights in one of his video. Also, I didn't bring the Larkin poetry anthology to China - he didn't make the cut.

Still, there is something to be said for Morrissey and Larkin. Morrissey, despite differing so much from me, is an attractive figure. He has made interesting videos and songs. Some I can still sing by heart. Larkin famously said sex only “began,” famously, “between the end of the Chatterley ban / And the Beatles’ first LP.”

When I go home tonight, I may pull out the Smiths and Morrissey DVDs I have. I can find Larkin on the 'net, surely.

China: A mixture of the old and modern.

Rare readers, who read closely, may know that when I take the #610 bus downtown, I get a seat but then have to walk fifteen minutes to work. I don't mind the walk. I see things. This morning, I had my camera at hand looking for something to put in this blog. This old man with mobile phone and old-fashioned bicycle for hauling stock was perfect. It encapsulates what makes China so interesting.

The key to taking photos is patience. In China, something will appear that needs recording.
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Wuxi Tony Update #287: Hugh Hefner Wannabee

Here is the video of Tony in his housecoat.

Wife says she is still mad at me.

When my wife says she is still mad at me, it is an improvement. Because it is when she doesn't speak to me that the situation is very grave.

Could I say Economics is a social science? Keeping in mind what Hayek said about the word "social" being a weasel word, and someone rightly pointing out that the world "social" negates the word it is modifying (social justice is thus non-justice; social policy is non-policy), you could very well say Economics is a non-science. But I hesitate to use the word "social" with economics because economics is a useful field of study.

This Obama man, name of Holder, said this: Simply put, to get to the heart of this country (America) one must examine its racial soul. I am not sure what he means by "racial soul". Souls are things that separate from our bodies at death. Souls transcend the idea of race, because they are eternal and leave this silly world of politics, while the bodies we have, whatever skin color, are transient. So how can souls be racial? It is like saying souls are fat or thin or bandy-legged. But. Whatever. It is a thought that struck me as good enough to provide content for this blog.

I wonder what one has to do to get to the heart of China. Examine its _____ soul? The Americans of the left-wing variety must think America is the only country in the world.

Tony in a Housecoat.

Tony was his regular cute self tonight. But wearing the housecoat, he looked extraordinary. So, I had to take some photos (and video). It was difficult to get him to stand still for a full frontal view. You notice I can only get shots of him from above and behind.

It is good to see him flipping through a book even if it is a Barney picture book. But don't worry rare readers, I will have him reading Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Burke, and Florence King in no time.

Fairy Tales

Reading this book by G.K. Chesterton, has lead me to this Grimm's Fairy Tale site. So many things I have to think about for Tony's future. But with the Fairy tale site, I can look forward to exploring the exciting world of Children's classic literature. I want Tony to grow up enchanted.

My wife wants him to learn Kung Fu and Karate but that is another story.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Is Economics a science?

I was listening to a Dennis Prager podcast where he said that the most important lesson he ever learned about Economics was that it wasn't a science.

I then read this article written by the famous Economist John Maynard Keynes on the Great Slump of 1930 where he said Economics was almost a science. (Incidentally, I found the Keynes piece at Project Gutenberg Canada.)

So what is a science? I can remember this definition of where one tested hypothesises. Now, Economists don't have labs to conduct policy experiments. So on that simple premise, I would have to say Economics can't be considered a science.

So what it is? It is a legitimate field of study. But because it is not able to conduct experiments and it is a study of very complex phenomena which are everywhere and yet unseen, it will always give charlatans opportunities to spout on matters of which they have no knowledge. Maybe, guys like me.

I suppose Economics to be like a documentary film, which purports to show real life, but is in fact almost always a case of the observer affecting the observed and so the observation, or the prediction of what will happen having an effect on what does happen so that the prediction negates itself.

A Wizard of Oz sort of day.

I am up. The wife is still in bed. Tony who was the first to get up this morning is watching The Wizard of Oz on DVD for the umpteenth time.

I plan on watching a portion of Oz this afternoon when I prepare for tomorrow's movie class. I will be showing the adventures of Dorothy, Toto, and the three after they arrive at the Emerald City.

Temperature wise, it is still cold in the apartment. I still turn on the heat lamps when I take a shower.

Talking about neighbours in an English Corner, the responses from many of the students was along the line of that they worked all day, went home in the evening, closed the door, and had nothing to do with their neighbours.

Reading so much on the Internet about the passing political scene, it is hard for me to make any comments. All that can be said probably has. There is not much I can add from my corner of the world, or I should say the corner of the world I am at.

Rainy Season in Wuxi?

We have had a long period of rain here in Wuxi, China. I have heard one person tell me that we are in the midst of Wuxi's rainy season.

But are we? Students tonight told me that the rain we have been having is very unusual, not normal as it were, meaning the current rain is not seasonal.

And in the four years I have been in Wuxi, I haven't picked on any seasonal pattern.

As I make this blog entry, I am in the doghouse it would appear with the wife. At least, I think I am. There is there terrifying air of silence I am nervous to break by asking her if anything is the matter.

Is the fact that she hasn't made me supper a clue?

It all stems from the Tony getting a shiner incident I made mention of in a recent entry.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good Boy Tony!

Now this is the Tony I like to see. He is sitting civilized on the sofa watching television. There is no need to spank or chide him.
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Police Bus

What was this bus doing parked at the corner of Zhongshan and Xueqian Roads? The police are apparently running a traffic rule awareness program.

When I went into the McDonald's that the bus was parked in front of, I could observe the police rounding up cyclists, who may have performed a misdeed, into the bus. In the bus, there was a video screen showing real traffic accidents.
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Tony has a shiner.

Tony has got a black eye. Just my luck, Tony and I were in an exuberant mood. I had him in my arms and when putting him down, I either fumbled or he stumbled so that he landed face-first on a toy that just happened to be on the floor in front of us. It was one of those two second long occurrences that happen so quickly they have a sense of unreality about them. It takes a while for it is set in your mind that the consequences can't be taken back. Tony of course screamed when it happened. This morning, Tony's shiner was clearly visible although Tony wasn't at all upset about it.

Kids can be more resilient than their parents about these things.

China 1972

Last night, I watched the first part of these series of films taken in China in 1972 by an Italian film maker. The DVD blurb says the film was denounced by the Chinese government at the time because it didn't show the achievements of the regime.

I watched the film to see what it was like so many years ago in China. The film was both fascinating and dull for me. I fast forwarded through some parts. But then the film had some images that left an impression in my memory:

  • There was a woman hobbled by the old custom of foot-binding.
  • A shy young woman chews on a piece of paper.
  • A man does Tai Chi while riding a bicycle.
  • A open-backed truck carrying forty Red Guards (people in Mao Suits).
  • A work gang marching to a field.

The film left me with a "been there, done that" feeling as well. The camera man took film of many of the same things I have taken in my four years in China:

  • A area full of an endless number of bicycles.
  • A huge mass of people on the move.
  • The narrow pathways of a city neighborhood.
  • The open air markets full of live fish.
  • A museum diorama showing China's past

The first part of the film was taken in Beijing. I recalled my honeymoon. But the Beijing I saw, had more cars and less Mao Suits.

  • The film showed People in Mao Suits at the Great Wall.
  • Tourists visiting the palace of heaven where you can see Jenny and Me on this web page's side panel.
  • The Forbidden Palace.
  • In Tienanmen Square, you could see giant portraits of Lenin, Engels, and Stalin.

The film makers were never with supervision so some of what they shot was obviously staged. So, the collective scenes were depressing to watch. While they are not so prevalent today, a hint of what they were like can still be seen today.

So, what struck me about this film was how much I have become familiar with about China.

The second part of the film sees the film makers to Henan and the countryside. Who knows when I will be able to watch that part.

Wednesday Evening.

It is Wednesday evening here in Wuxi. I am at home, keeping my eye on the next room making sure Tony doesn't get into things he shouldn't. I should add that I also have to make sure that he doesn't get onto to things he shouldn't, like the TV stand!

Anyway, I did elicit a few laughs from El Hombre Petito. Holding my Tony in my arms, I saw my wife's lovely bum. And I said to Tony: "watch this!". I pinched her bum and laughed diabolically. Tony joined in the laughter. I pinched my wife's bum again and laughed like a naughty little boy. Tony laughed even louder. I then pressed an index finger to the same area and laughed even more outlandishly. Tony giggled likewise and then imitated my actions.

Between spanking and yelling, we can have good fun together, father and son and mother.

However my fourth attempt to pinched my wife's bum resulted in my wife slapping me on the face. I turned sullen while Tony continued to laugh. Actually, this part is fiction but would have made for good blogging if it had happened.)

I had this inkling of something unpleasant happening today. Later in the day, it did. I will have to stop thinking.

Nobody messes with Joe. Not even Oprah!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #286: Big Hug!

Tony does amazing things off camera. You will have to trust me on this.

Big Hug Daddy! Big Hug Momma!

My wife has taught Tony to hug a person who asks him for a big hug. Cute, I suppose but it comes from that Teletubbies show that I despise.

Tony is a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Dare to Dream

Tony is in his WMD phase. Just ask my wife. Today, she tells me Tony managed to pry into a drawer and dump all its contents on the floor. He still likes to climb on the TV table and turn off the television. My wife says the holy terror brought her to tears because he managed to destroy some expensive ear rings she had. Because she comes from the unenlightened Middle Kingdom, she has no qualms about spanking him. When I tell her about the movement in North America to ban spanking, she can't believe it. I, in a spirit of multi-cultural tolerance, play the good cop as much as I can.

Meanwhile, in the U.N., President Oprah is trying to put together another Coalition of the Willing to deal with the WMD problem in the K household. Said Obama: "Forget this stuff about Islamic Terrorism, the real threat to the civilized world is named Anthony Arnis Peng Kaulins."

In other news, President Oprah says he now thinks his stimulus package was a boneheaded move, and will try to have it nullified.

The students got a kick out of this article's headline that I have linked and printed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Solar Eclipse in Wuxi?

I can thank the local weather conditions for giving me something to blog about. About 100 PM today, it became very dark in Downtown Wuxi. It was so dark that cars had to put their headlights on. A few people I was talking to, speculated that either a solar eclipse or the end or the world was occurring. In fact, it was just a very intense storm rolling in. My wife even phoned me to make sure I was indoors.

I knew it was going to happen, but now it is official. February 2009 will be the best month for visits and page views on AKIC blogspot. I want to thank all rare readers, whether they questioned my sanity or gave me advice, for coming here.

I just received a Google alert telling me that the second World Buddhist Forum will open in Wuxi on March 28th. Unfortunately, the link on the alert isn't working for me. Maybe, it will work for you. Wuxi, I gather, will be one of the co-hosts.

Evidence of Tony's Malfeseance

When I saw this, the following conversation ensued:

"Honey! Did you see....."

"I know, the little bugger was also standing on the table and turning off the television all day!"

I wonder what Oprah would do in a situation like this.

I bet she would write Tony a letter.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Did I say it isn't raining?

It is raining. It turned out to be a miserable day: cold, wet, and dank. At least, I won't be riding my bike home tonight.

I had a student take me to lunch today which was nice.

More about Tony's 18th here.

Today's English Corner Topic: Mystery.

Monday morning.

It is the same scenario as yesterday. I have a class at 1100 am. I can blog now (815 am) because Jenny and Tony are still asleep.

If I can get through the next two days, I can make it to Wednesday, which is my day off.

Tony has awoken. He is in a cheery mood. I have given him something to drink which will occupy him for a little while. Just long enough for me to finish this entry.

Outside, the sun is breaking through the clouds. It looks like today won't see a repeat of yesterday's non-stop rain.

My son Tony is 18 months old.

Tony was born 18 months ago on August 23, 2007. Here he is on Saturday night before he went to sleep.
He is already modelling some ties for his first corporate job.
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Sunday Night.

I got through Sunday to get to this point. If I any wiser on account of doing so?

Tony has this terrible habit of standing on the table in front of the flat-screen t.v. and sticking his hands on its' screen. My repeatedly spanking him after he repeatedly does this is not working. He argues back mockingly. He doesn't seem at all phased most of the time. Maybe, I am not hitting him hard enough.

Blogging of Tony, he will be officially 18 months old Monday. Congratulations to Jenny on keeping her sanity. I lost my sanity years ago with no expectation of ever gaining it back. Thankfully, mental numbness instead of insanity is serving as a replacement.

Les Dingle tells me that the Blue Bar will hold a charitable event for children next Saturday night. I suggest you attend. Be sure to bring things kids can use. If you bring enough, you will get free Tiger Beer.

I have been listening to G. Gordon Liddy podcasts this weekend. I read somewhere that Gordon is 79 years old. May he live till he is a hundred. He correctly points out that if you don't want to improve a situation, get the government to try to improve it.

Wuxi Tony Update #285: Tony in his PJs.

It was an effort to get Tony to sleep last night.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I am working today, teaching some extra classes at school. I do have a bit of spare time in the morning to make a blog entry. The wife and son are still in bed.

It rained heavily last night. My wife told me that there was even thunder. I was in bed listening to some freshly downloaded podcasts on my mobile phone so I didn't hear the thunder but I did hear the heavy patter of rain on the outside walls of our apartment building.

Today, I have four classes to teach and planning to do for tomorrow. I should be able to download the latest WTU during that time.

I like to thank rare reader Susan for her kind words. I do believe I have a beautiful wife and son. I hope I can provide them with a good life in these perilous times.

My father sends me this link for a Chinese woman who had a cultural display in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

The Wicked Witch of the West is in Beijing

  • The Ex-President's Wife is in Beijing. She has got herself a new gig as U.S. Secretary of State. I wonder if she can lie as good to the Chinese as she has to everyone in America. I also wonder if she will buy some fake Gucci pant suits while she is there.
  • If you told me twenty years ago that I would be riding public transportation in China reading a sex scene in an Ayn Rand novel, I probably would have said "you just never know." Anyway, that is what I did today. In a country that seems sexless in spite of the fact that it has so many people, I think they would try to imitate the sterility of a Ayn Rand love scene.
  • Don't get me wrong. I like reading Ayn Rand. She writes an entertaining novel. She is bang on about Socialist and their mindset. But she has her blind spots. She writes like an socially awkward person. She is all wrong all the nature of the human spirit. I always want to emulate her characters even though I know it is an infantile urge to do so. If there isn't a God, her characters like Dagny Traggart are how we should be.
  • Incidentally, Ayn Rand is following me on Twitter.
  • Looking down a long straight street from the bus this morning, I saw the staff of a hair salon dancing on the street in front of their shop before starting their shift. It is a management technique that wouldn't fly in North America. Mind you, here they dance with a sense of listlessness, but never a sense of embarrassment that would happen if any North American manager tried to do that to their staff.
  • I saw a car with an image of Che Guevera on its door. I have seen cars with Snoopy and Hello Kitty designs but never Che, till today. The irony is that no one in Cuba drives a car that is as nice as the Che car I saw today.
  • I haven't seen an image of Che since I heard about President Oprah's campaign offices having one.
  • I bought a new DVD today for my son. But, Tony was not at all interested in Walt Disney's Fantasia. I found I had to fast forward through parts. The Wizard of Oz is still Tony's favorite. The wife thinks I bought Fantasia for myself - I did'nt.
  • I thought I was seeing things when I read that President Oprah had nixed a plan to tax motorists based on the miles they drive instead of the gas they used. But it is true. Such an idea is so stupid and draconian that one has to wonder how such an idea would even come so close to the President for consideration. To monitor people's mileage would be such an onerous task that even the most rabid big government types would have to adopt some common sense and reject the idea out of hand. I suspect that Obama was trying to provide a lame sop for Republicans in his naive belief that he can transcend partisanship. I could even see him saying "I no totalitarian. I nixed the mileage tax idea."

Friday, February 20, 2009

A lesson in Wuxi, China local dialect #3

Helen will teach you how to count in Putonghua (Mandarin) and Wuxihua.

Does it look recessional in Wuxi?

Looking on the Internet, it certainly looks like there is a recession. But if I walk out onto the street, can I see a recession?

On Wednesday, I walked into the Parkson's on the corner of Zhong Shan and Renmin Roads, and I saw a lot of shop clerks standing around. The tally if I had bothered to count would probably have been clerks 50, customers 30. I don't think I have seen that store so dead before. But it was a Wednesday afternoon.

That is the only sight of the recession I have seen with my own eyes. Otherwise, I have been told anecdotes by people.

I always ask Simon if his baby daughter Amy is walking yet. He tells me "She is getting there."

What do I have to look forward to tomorrow? The continuing rapid progress of Tony who my wife tells me can really shake his hips and bottom when he dances; Showing 30 minutes of the Wizard of Oz to students; making A lesson in Wuxi Hua 3; The latest installment of Radio Derb; and a trip to a DVD shop.

A lesson in Wuxi, China local dialect #2

In this video, I chide Josie for not wanting to take part in this historically important Youtube series. But Ida does an excellent job. I put her in the stalwart class with Lisa of Wuxi Hua lesson #1.

It is going to be awful tough to learn a language (or dialect) where you can't pronounce "I" very clearly.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good morning, it was.

I got to spend an hour or so with my favorite little man, my mini-me, as it were. Jenny went downtown to buy formula and diapers for Tony. She left the international man of mystery with me. We were the best of buddies playing and then we went downtown to join her.

As soon as we got off the bus downtown, Tony espied a cheap coin-operated kid's ride in front of an infant store. He pointed me to it. The ride set me back one rmb.

Jenny agreed to let me at at the Muslim Restaurant near the Mosque in downtown Wuxi. A day there where the food is great is heaven for me.

It puts me in a good mood for work where I am right now.

Josie is shy about doing these Wuxihua or Wuxi Hua lessons. But that is okay. I have many other girls who would be happy to have the gig of Wuxi Hua teacher on the Wuxi Andis Youtube Channel and AKIC blog network.

Harry tells me that a policeman was selling him tickets to the Policeman's ball. Harry bought a hundred till he realized it wasn't a raffle....

Tomorrow, I will show another thirty minutes of the Wizard of Oz movie to students.

Wuxi Tony Update #284: Tony in his mother's drawers.

I took this video friday morning. I again try to speak some mandarin. I would appreciate a critqiue from any fluent Mandarin speakers out there.

A lesson in Wuxi Hua.

Josie did not want to make history. So I relied on my old stalwart Lisa to change the epoch, shift paradigms, and undermine all the assumptions of conventional wisdom.

Today, she teaches me and you to say Hello, Good Bye, and Thank You in Wuxi Hua, the local dialect of Wuxi, China.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Journey to the West.

It is slow at school so I am reading an online version (in pdf format) of Arthur Waley's translation of Journey to the West.

Learn Wuxi Hua!

I have this plan to make videos using the girls at work. They will teach you and me some words and maybe even some phrases in Wuxi Hua, the local dialect of Wuxi.

Now, if only Josie would end her class. I will ask her to be the first hostess of this historical new YouTube series.

Ice Hockey and Curling.

On the public bus I take to work, there is a flat TV screen in which they have a loop tape playing for the enjoyment of the passengers. It will show advertising and some news programs. I was surprised to see Curling (a game that Canada excels at, but really is an excuse to drink) and Ice Hockey highlights make the bus news.

There is some sort of international winter sports festival taking place in Harbin. I saw highlights of the opening ceremony which included a curler being used for the lighting of the flame ceremony. Now the curler didn't huck a flaming rock into a cauldron or run around the stadium with a lighted broom. What the curler did do was throw (slide) a rock down the ice toward a target. Hitting the target with the rock caused a spark to fly along a wire toward where ever the festival's flame was to burn. The spark ignited the flame.

Wuxi Tony Update #283: Tony learns a new skill.

Watch to see what he can now do. Watch yours truly attempt to speak Mandarin for a second WTU in a row.

The View from the back of the bus.

I pulled out the camera this afternoon to give you a short sample of the sounds you can hear on a bus in Wuxi, China.

I also wanted to mark the moment I had a seat.

Don't want to get Alzheimer's.

It wasn't a good day today as I predicted. But, I can't say why, suffice to say people are strange.

But this is not to say that there weren't some pleasant experiences earlier in the day, for there were. At Mengzhidao Computer Market on Renmin Road I was able to get a new card reader for my digital camera and mobile phone memory cards for just 15 rmb. I was expecting to pay thirty so I was quick to agree to the price. (Some wisenheimer will tell me I could have got it for less. Stick it! I say to them.)

Tony accompanied me to the computer market. While he can walk. He often wants to be carried.

We then went to the Xinhua book store. There are English volumes to be had at the store that are worth reading but I have to get through the 1,000 pages of Atlas Shrugged before I even consider buying another book. I did meet a couple of older Chinese gentlemen who wanted to practice their English on me. I obliged because to find people who can speak English here over the age of sixty is very unusual. The questions I would ask if I could meet more of them. One of the gentlemen I met today told me that he was practicing his English to stop Alzheimer's from setting in. A good idea. The gentleman at first did not pronounce "Alzheimer's" correctly till his description clued me in.

When they asked me about my Chinese speaking abilities, I did utter a few Mandarin phrases telling them I could speak a little English, that my wife was a lousy teacher, and my pronunciation was bad. But one old gent did understand what I said and complimented me on my pronunciation. Pronunciation is not consistent among the Chinese so it sometimes happens that my pronunciation is recognized. (Unfortunately, my wife is not one of these people) So, I will say something in Chinese and then grasp in anticipation of a look of understanding or misunderstanding.

Tony fell asleep in my arms at the Book Store. Xinhua has no seats anywhere because it would encourage loiterers. But, I really could have used a chair then because Tony started to weigh a ton. I got Tony out of the bookstore and walked to Parkson's where the day went to seed.....

Here is an editorial about the Wuxi girl who tried to save her father's life.

Tony on a slide.

I took this photo Wednesday afternoon at a KFC playground.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Dark Knight.

  • Chinese Layoff: This gives new meaning to layoff.
  • I bought and watched the film The Dark Knight yesterday. I had seen that NRO included it in in its top 25 conservative movies of the last 25 years list. Now I have said, to people who cared or didn't, that I generally don't like movies based on comic books. The fact that this movie was rated highly by conservatives doesn't change my opinion - comic book movies are boring. And while I will say that the Dark Knight is perhaps the best comic book movie I have seen, it doesn't strike me at all as a classic movie. People who read comic books are chided for avoiding reality, and for good reasons. Life is not a series of set pieces - it is lived continuously. Movies are about the interesting parts of life and too are connected together by set pieces. But, Comic books put together with films make this set-piece tendency of film too much. Films are rightly called ephemeral because they provide thrills without any sustaining nourishment. Comic Book movies are even more so.
  • I also have to say that it is a stretch to say that in the Dark Knight is about a George Bush character fighting evil against the sway of public opinion. When I watched the film last night, I had this characterization in mind and it seemed to be that the film alluding to the Batman being unpopular was a small aspect of the film - not its' major focus. The Joker was the compelling part of the Dark Knight. I would have called the film: The Joker versus Batman.

Crappy Day.

Even though it is my day off, it has the makings of a crappy day. It is cold and raining outside. The K family has to go out and downtown. I want to stay at the apartment.

Babies come from your mother's armpit.

This is news to me but I was told by students that in China, children are told that babies come from armpits. In the West, we tell our children that the stork brings them.

This came up tonight when I was doing an English Corner on the topic of lies. I first asked the students to tell me lies. Several told me the weather was fine when it was raining. Then another student told me I was handsome - he obviously did not know what lie meant. Ending that line of thought, I asked the students what made a good lie. They thought of a good lie as what I thought of as a white lie. What I hoped they would say was that a good lie was one that was believable. I later asked the question of what was the biggest lie they ever told. Some of the students said they never told lies but were lied to like the one student whose parents, he said, lied to him about where babies came from.

To get the students to tell me an anecdote, I often tell one of my own as for an example. I told them tonight about an incident where I lied when I was in living in Quebec in the 1970s. At the time, we lived on a hill in a subdivision that was being built. Higher up the hill or up the street from where we lived, a lot's basement had been dug in. It had rained recently so the hole was filled with water. At the front of the lot an earthen dam, about ten feet high, kept the water in the hole. I was wandering around the lot and decided to put a little breach in the dam to let the water out. Thinking nothing of it, I went back to my home. Not twenty minutes later, a mud slide went down the street in front of my house continuing down to interrupt a street hockey game. The players all ran to the lot to see what had happened. I joined them not telling them that I was responsible instead telling a story of seeing some other child playing there. None of the students could top my story. Though two did tell me about lying about their marital status and age in matters of romance.

It was raining tonight in Wuxi, so I went home by bus and then motorcycle taxi.

It is shaping up that February will be this blog's best month ever which is good considering that it is only 28 days long. So keep reading and checking out pages and I promise I will keep writing and showing you vids of Tony the great.

On the bus ride into work today, they showed President Hu visiting Africa.

The Shanghaiist is now following me on Twitter. You should too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Walking around Wuxi.

I normally take the #25 bus to school. The problem with it is always crowded and standing for forty minutes exhausts me. But it stops right by work.

Another bus I sometimes take is the #610. The problem with it is that it is twice the price of the #25 and doesn't stop near the school - I have to walk briskly for ten or fifteen minutes after deboarding to get to school. But, it is often empty when it comes to my stop and so I can sit and I need the exercise.

Today, I employed the #610 option. I am not sure where it goes past a certain point so today I decided to go a few more stops and find out. It turns out that it stops near our two previous apartments. Being in the old neighborhood, I saw the changes that had taken place in a year. There were new restaurants and the section of Renmin Road near the computer market has been renovated - it now has traffic barriers and new pavement.

Of course all this work looks like the local government trying to stimulate the economy through public works. Whether it works over the next few years remains to be seen. I keep reading that the Chinese economy is going down and so it looks like all this building is a sign of desperation.

Wuxi Tony Update #282: Tony's Dad speaks in Mandarin, sort of.

My spoken Chinese is not as good as it should be.

Tony obeys commands on the phone.

At 730 PM tonight, my mobile phone indicated that my wife was phoning me. I answered only to hear silence in my response to "honey!". A second "honey!", a little louder, produced no response. And then I heard Tony's voice. I don't know what he said but he said it loud and then said it three of four times. I then asked him to give the phone to his mother who strangely enough happens to be my wife.

She answered and told me that Tony had somehow managed to ring me up on her phone. Tony, like many infants, is fascinated by mobile phones and loves to play with their buttons. He has on previous occasions rung up Jenny's mother and me.

When I got home this evening, I asked Jenny about the phone call. She reconfirmed that Tony had phoned me unbeknownst to her, and that he had handed the phone to her. I assume that he did so because I told him to.

Good Boy!

The clerks at Kedi, Wuxi's version of 7-11, taught me some words in Wuxi dialect. I will try to learn these words by heart but it will take me a few days to get the sounds and tones right. My Chinese is not as good as it should be and I must change this. With the world going to pot, I got to keep myself busy.

How I was getting home tonight.

There wasn't enough light to make this video. You may be able to see the back of some seats and some heads. You can hear me to talking to a student who happens to live out Yangqiao way like I do.

She told me of another way I could get home in the evening that is cheaper than the motorcycle taxi option I have been using the past few weeks.

What she does is catch a inter-city bus by the bus station near the Baoli mall. The bus she catches there goes to Jiangying and stops in Yangqiao on the way for 5 rmb - a 10 rmb saving on the motorcycle taxi. I have ridden these type of buses in Yangqiao, Changzhou, and Yixing. They are cheap but annoyingly slow. They will stop anywhere and can be flagged down at anytime. They leave the first stop when they have enough passengers. They will fill themselves over legal capacity.

The bus tonight left late and so I arrived home later than when taking my other options - my electric bike or the motorcycle taxi. When I was left off, I had a ten minute walk home. Because I arrived home late, the wife was displeased. She wasn't even impressed by the 10 rmb saving. So I doubt if I will be taking that the bus again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Turning Japanese

Here is a very informative link I have found about America's current fiscal crisis. It compares America's current plight to that of the Japanese in the the 1990s. It shows why Barry's stimulus won't work and why America's plight will be worse than the Japanese in the 1990s. Its' conclusions: Americans have not been saving. Americans have to save but the government won't let them.

How do you do.

The students' reaction to my showing them scenes from My Fair Lady was interesting. They didn't understand it to be a romance. One student like the story of a common girl being coached to become genteel, to move up in the world, as it were.

Apparently, Professor Higgins' teaching methods were not a problem to them. It may well be what they want education to do to them.

There is a scene in the movie where Eliza Doolittle, the common girl, first circulates among the upper crusties after being coached what to say that the students found very funny and confusing. The bits where Eliza says "How do you do?" in a upper-class accent elicited laughter. The time she says "the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain" when talking about the weather got the biggest laughs. However, her falling in the vernacular of the peasantry when talking about an aunt that maybe died of influenza or was done in, which I thought was very funny, was greeted with silence.

As well, Audrey Hepburn's star power in China is great. Many of the students gave the movie a five star excellent rating because she was in it. Roman Holiday is a perennial favorite Hollywood film among the students. In fact, there is a hotel and spa in Wuxi that uses the Roman Holiday motif - The Roman Holiday Inn.

Wuxi Metro logo solicits public opinion.



  • Yesterday, I passed the #3 Hospital where the drama, involving the girl taking the sleeping pills and the father dying of liver problems, occurred. The hospital, for those of you who are familiar with Wuxi is down the road from the train station. I received a letter from a reader thanking me for providing a link to the story in this blog. He mentioned that the issue of the mother not telling the father of what the daughter had done was an important ethical issue. Kant, he said, would have disapproved. I think of a story I heard of truth being represented by a naked old woman as a reason for it to be covered as a matter of course.
  • I appeared on the stage for the TV Show I blogged about last night. The heat from the TV lights was too much. I also recall that last week when I was standing on the stage at the singing gala for which I undeservedly won a second prize with the other contestants, the smell of flatulence filled the air. I wonder how often that happens on Saturday Night Live.
  • It is cold in the apartment but I don't need to wear long johns.
  • Tony is more mischievous than ever and more rebellious too. Spanking him in hopes of stopping him from his more egregious acts seems to only earn his contempt.
  • Sleep is the most precious thing for me these days. I am turning Chinese.
  • There is a book out that suggests Stalin welcomed Hitler's invasion of Russia in June 1941 and wasn't at all duped by Hitler as historians have commonly suggested. My first reaction to this theory is that it immediately reminds of the people who suggest that Roosevelt welcomed the Pearl Harbour attack. Why did Stalin welcome the invasion? It was supposedly part of the grand strategy of Leninist Communists that a world war was needed to ignite a world revolution.
  • My flash memory card reader has appeared to have bitten the dust. Till I can convince the wife to let me buy a new one, I will have to download my video and photo files by putting my camera in a cradle which I hate to use. I will also have to upload MP3 files to my phone the hard way, using a cable which I am dammed if I know where it is.

Wuxi Primary and High School Students English Speaking Contest & The 3rd Bilingual Education TV Show

The Auditorium was packed for the TV Show.
We saw dancing.
We saw singing.
We saw a whole lotta people getting a whole lotta plaques.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #281: Happy Valentine's Day!

What I did do for Valentine's Day.

The wife told me I didn't have to but I did anyway. I bought her some chocolate. I bought her a simple bag of Hershey's Kisses not wanting to splurge on those V-Day gift packs that are over-priced and not full of chocolate. At Nanchang market, I was able to find two hear-shaped balloons on my second trip - Tony got a big laugh out of them.

I meet a person who described himself as a Christian - the first one I have encountered in Wuxi and the first since I left Canada. He told me that Wuxi is actually conducting a religious-freedom experiment for China. Other places in China, he told me, have tighter restrictions on going to Church. In Wuxi, you can go to a multi-national service though it is monitored by the authorities. So there is religious freedom here, sort of.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Brawl at the Nanchang Temple Mall.

Actually, I saw a shoving match Saturday afternoon between an older woman and an older male parking attendant at the Nanchang temple market in Wuxi, China. The male seemed to be getting the worse of it. The woman was pushing him back. His vest was clearly disheveled. He had a look on his face that said "help me God, help me!". I couldn't ascertain what the two were fighting about but I watched if for about a minute before I went on my way. I suppose they were fighting about parking. The woman's electric bike had been pushed on its' side.

Meanwhile, right beside the shoving match, this car was trying to back into a parking spot. The car was in an alleyway that was packed with people. No one was yielding to the car and so there was a constant parade of people behind the car not permitting it to move. I had no sympathy for the driver because the drivers here think they can trump hundreds of other pedestrians because having a car makes them superior. The driver was nuts to drive in an area with so many pedestrians on a Saturday.

Nanchang Market seemed busier than normal because of the Valentine's Day holiday. The flower sellers were out in force. I saw some heart-shaped balloons that would have been nice for Tony, but by the time I got back from my errand (I bought some magnets for Tony to put on a metal white board we had bought him previously), they must have been sold out. Either that or the seller had moved to another spot.

Happy Valentine's Day Jenny!

The woman in this picture is Tony's and My Valentine. We love her so much!
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Missed out on Friday the 13th. Will miss out on Valentine's Day.

I didn't realize till seven this evening that it was Friday the thirteenth. I missed having something to talk about in my classes. I also missed out on the superstitious fretting. Just as well. Sometimes, it is good to not in in tune with the world.

Actually, the world being fallen, it is good to not been in tune with it at all.

I won't miss out on Valentine's Day but I like symmetry in my blog titles. I made the decision, later seconded by my wife, that Valentine's Day isn't worth celebrating this year. Because it is on a Saturday, we have an extra reason to stay at home. Valentine's Day will thus increase our saving. Valentine's Day is for saps who have to show economic prowess to some suspicious woman.

Every day is Valentine's Day in the K household as well as for rare readers of AKIC. I love you most of you except the fat, lazy, and/or incompetent who have crossed my path. You can fuddle duddle yourselves.

We have this student who has been best classified as a f***wit. He doesn't seem to be interested in English. Apparently, his parents dumped him in our school and not having the imagination to do anything useful, he hangs around the school, gossiping, attending classes and taking up space because he still can make any sentences, and walking around with a dumb grin on his face. You wonder if he is retarded or lazy or both. His presence is proof that some people are best suited for prison and that some people have to be given up on. Efforts to change his ways have yielded nothing. The kick in the ass he deserves will have to come in time when life catches up with him, as it does with everyone else. His interest perks up for the strangest of reason. He is what people would call nosy or a snoop. This afternoon, some people were having a shouting match in the hallway. Not having seen it, I had eye-witness reports that he had come out of his slumber to see what was going on.

I asked some students about the broken windows fallacy that some Economists, not at all, seem to know about. I first asked the students if they thought it was a good idea for the Wuxi government to build a second airport in order to stimulate its local economy. The students said it was a waste of money. One student did say that it would maybe give a small boost to the economy, but it would turn out quickly to be a waste of money. I then asked if the deliberate breaking of a window followed by its subsequent repair was good for the economy. The students, maybe due to a misunderstanding, said it was good. The window repairman would take his earnings and spend it they reasoned. And that spending would boost the economy. I would say that in both instances, the work done was not good for the economy. In the first instance, the second airport is not needed and a diversion from more productive uses of the resources employed. In the second case, the window has been lost and the resources used to repair it have been lost too. The money circulating as a result of the broken window is circulating to be sure but then so does paper shuffle in the wind. And the money spent is for commodities that have already been made and not necessarily for the labour to produce them.

The example of the City of Wuxi government building an unnecessary airport is not a far-fetched example. In the city of Seattle, there are two football stadiums of over 60,000 seat capacities as well as a baseball stadium with a 50,000 seat capacity. Are all these stadiums necessary? I should say not. One football stadium could easily support the city's major professional team and college football team. The baseball stadium, as well, was used to host a world-cup soccer qualifying match when the football stadium would have been the proper location. I also recall that the last time I went to the baseball facility, the stadium was trying to rent itself out for meetings and conventions - a sign that it was not recouping the hundreds of millions of dollars used to construct it. And where did the money come from to build these stadiums? Two of them needed money from the local government.

The city of Seattle is just one example of local governments in America, in the last twenty or so years, building large stadiums in hopes of boosting their economies. Has all this infrastructure building helped the economy? It would appear to have been of little use now. The money used to pay all the workers must have been lured them into buying houses they couldn't afford and rack up large credit card debts. Wasting money is no way to help the economy.

Tony in an Oprah Jumpsuit.

I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. But my wife tells me that this blue getup with the matching pants and jacket was a gift from her parents.

There is no veiled reference to Obama in this, so don't go thinking there is.
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It is warm now but it is going to get cold again.

Here is a blog entry about the weather because I haven't got much to say. It has been warm the past few days in Wuxi and I have been discarding layers. But I will have to put these layers on again starting tomorrow if the weather experts are correct.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pill girl recovers Her father dies.

Here is the link.


The news about Caterpillar and Barry (Obama) is doubly interesting for me because of the company's connection with my school here in Wuxi. We have a lot of Caterpillar employees take classes at our school. I believe they have two plants here in Wuxi. I remember telling these students that a stimulus package could very well help them since Caterpillar surely gets work from infrastructure construction. Barry thought that too.

Tony is a shopping cart.

I swear I will never let Tony sit or stand in the shopping cart while I am going through the aisles. It is so low class. In this photo, I have put Tony in the shopping cart so I push him around while the wife is in the check-out.
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Wuxi Renmin Road

This photo taken Wednesday afternoon. The big empty spot in the upper left of the photo is where the Number One People's Hospital once stood.
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Leftover photos from the Spring Festival.

It was the spread at one of the homes we went to.
In this photo, Tony and I are seated next to a famous local TCM doctor.
Tony on the bus.
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2/3 of K Family was nuts but not A.

When two thirds of the Kaulins family is nuts, one would assume that is yours truly and mini-yours truly who are cuckoo for coco puffs. But tonight it wasn't me going off the bend, it was the wife and child. Who would have thunk it.

Now what happened was that Tony and I were playing. We were screaming like mad men to drive mom bonkers but Tony was initiating. Mom who was taking a shower at the time decided to make a boo-hoo voice to get me to worrying. Be the loyal husband that I am, I of course became concerned, after a fashion. The boo-hooing had an unreal quality to it though and I found out the wife was faking it playing a trick on me. Traipsing in my what is my area of responsibility, I wonder what had gotten into her.

But there you have it: the wife and son are crazy. I am the sane one.

Singing the lyrics from Back in the U.S.S.R at school today prompted Harry Moore to look up the lyrics for the song on the computer. Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC. Didn't get to bed last night. All the way the paper bag was on my knee. Man, I had a dreadful flight.....

Okay, I haven't got much to say today. It is a day of slim squeezings for me creatively.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Fair Lady?

Is My Fair Lady a romance movie?

I ask because I need to show something romantic this Saturday to my students.

When is Ikea coming to Wuxi?

This I have culled from the Internet: Swedish IKEA spent RMB 47.6 million on a 160,000-square meter land parcel in Wuxi in July 2008.

But when will they open?

In and Out.

Anyone who has seen Clockwork Orange, will find this store name funny. At one time, it was a video store. Now, you can see it is a clothing store.
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Wuxi Tony Update #280: Tony, Jenny, and Lily.

It was my great honor to have the wife of Paul Rudkin join us for lunch and a Wuxi Tony Update.

Check this link out.

This entry from seablogger contains links that are worth looking at, but it is the comment made by one reader that makes the entry a keeper. The commentator confesses that he feels he has become a blogomaniac or you could also say a blog addict. The commentator feels he has to quit his blog addiction cold turkey. However, there is more to this addiction than his reading too many blogs. He says this:

Now it seems like everything in our world is all adrift, unanchored, being
pilfered away by amoral madmen - and I am powerless to do anything, to say
anything. I simply cannot believe this ugly new world is being birthed and I
seem to lack the mental tools to accommodate it.

This has gotten me to thinking.

I have thought a few times that writing this blog is a waste of time. Forty people a day may look at it and many probably take a four second look and type in another URL in their browser.

I have even thought I should give up reading political blogs altogether. But they interest me so. Even if I get classified as a crank for being so.

The world going into the toilet strangely hasn't stirred me as it should. After all, I would be in a world of hurt being out here in China if things went kablooey here. I have fortunately been isolated out in my suburb of Wuxi, away from the mostly amoral expats I know (How I wish I could find one who wasn't but most of them represent what is wrong with the West.). I have my Jenny, Tony, and blog to keep me occupied. It is a small world, but the big world seems too stupid to even contemplate or deal with.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going Downtown on my day off.

The K family will go downtown today. It is my day off. We will meet the wife of one of the bloggers listed on the side panel.

Try to guess which one.

The answer will be in WTU 280.

More Slim Squeezings.

It has been another one of those days where I have nothing to offer you but videos and a complaint about how the day has been difficult for squeezing any ideas from my mind which can be put in this blog. So, another day of AKIC blogging bullits.

  • Today, I took my electric bike to work for only the second time in the year of the Ox. Rare readers may recall how the first ride of the year of the Bull saw me get a flat tire which lead me to find a easier way to get home that involved taking a bus and a motorcycle taxi. I was inspired by Barry's book "The Audacity of Hope" to stay close to the common people of China and ride my electric bike to work. Barry, by complaining that flying in a private jet separated him from the ordinary folk who have to ride commercial, brought tears to my eyes. His compassion showed him to an ineffably wonderful human being with all the attributes of Jesus Christ. Barry, being the ultra caring man that he is, has probably forgiven the people on his staff who suggested he ride private in the first place. I bet he even doubled their salaries as a way of making them feel better about themselves so that they might become productive.
  • On Twitter, I mentioned that I was ironing pants. Someone then asked why my wife Jenny wasn't ironing my pants. Good question. I never thought of that before. I will go ask my wife, the lightweight champion of all of Jiangsu, that question right now..... Not.
  • Barry so inspires me that I feel I can walk on water. And walking through some water today, I did feel I was walking on water. But then I realized that I was in a shallow puddle below which was pavement.
  • All the Chinese did over the New Year's holiday was eat and sleep. Some felt short-changed on the hongbao (red money envelope) front though.
  • Tony knew we were going out. So he pulled his shoes from the shoe shelf by the apartment entrance. He put the shoes on the floor so his mother could put them on.
  • If Tony doesn't want to be fed, he will put his arm up in a blocking gesture. He may also try to redirect the food to the attempting feeder's mouth.
  • Liberal Democrats don't mind raising tax rates because they don't have to pay them. They also don't seem to mind making people ride public transit because they won't ride it either. I know people like this in Wuxi who wouldn't lower themselves to take a bus but then say we must do something about global warming or the enviroment.
  • You can get a glimspe in the private lives of Wuxi people if you take a bike ride. Tonight on my way back home, I saw a couple tussle on a bridge over a canal that stunk. I prefer my personal dramas to take place in nice-smelling areas.
  • I wonder how Harry Moore's love life is doing. I hope he finds that special woman.
  • It is getting warmer in the Wux. I can't wear a balaclava on my bike ride home.
  • I don't think I have any romantic movies in my DVD collection. I notice this because I should be showing the students a Romantic movie on my Saturday, February 14th movie corner. I will consult this list and see if I can find one of the movies tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update#279: I should say Er Qi Jiu!

Watch me try to speak Chinese!

How I got home this evening.

I didn't go out for the lantern festival but it didn't stop me from taking this video.

Slim Squeezings.

John Derbyshire, in his last Radio Derb, had a brilliant introduction for a program in which he didn't know what to say. He said it was a dozer of a week and he would try his hardest to squeeze something out of it to talk about.

I feel the same way about my day today. So I will revert to random thought mode, in bullit form, which I will refer to as slim squeezings:

  • Tony's shoe came off. Something that happens all the time, but not because he wants to throw it at some Chinese dictator or his parents. The shoes come off because he does not wear shoes well. Today, he tried to put the shoe back on for the first time in front of me.
  • When I arrived home today. Tony handed me a hand held video game.
  • My Chinese wife baked a cake, brilliantly.
  • I am reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and The Reader's Digest's Life of Jesus. I found the book about Jesus in our school library. It is a cool anthology with great photos and interesting poetry.
  • As I type, men I don't know are making noise with pyrotechnics to scare away evil spirits, but are instead annoying me.
  • I am thinking of using twitter as a way of chronicling my fictional conquering of Upper Delinga: Gateway to the Lower Middle Anthonies.
  • I have a hankering to see a compilation of all Astaire - Rogers dance routines.
  • Ideologues are apparently with no life. Not that I would be one of those. Perish the thought.
  • None of the Australians at our school are from the Melbourne area. But they have told me some details about the fires. The tree leaves in the affected area are highly flammable. The temperatures are in the forties. A lot of people like to have their house in the bush. Okay, if you want isolation; but dangerous in time of wildfire. A famous news reader and his wife were killed, I have heard.
  • None of the students seemed excited at all about the Lantern Festival. One for example said that she wasn't going to bed early tonight because school was starting tomorrow.
  • I had a student tell me that he would take a date to a hotel. The first time any student has ever told me in the four years I have been at the school.
  • Obama is as bad as I thought he would be. Not only has he not transcended anything, reality is hitting him harder than ever before in his unproductive life.
  • Oh geez. Another of my videos has been blocked because of copyright infringement. Oh well.
  • I got nothing else to say.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wuxi Foreigners Join in Singing Gala

Check out the story here.

The end of the Chinese New Year.

It is the Lantern Festival tonight (Monday) which marks the traditional end of the Spring Festival. I can call myself lucky because the school has cancelled classes for tonight so I can go home early. Jenny and I had talked of going out tonight but the weather is cold and damp so we stay at the apartment.

Many of the students have told me they will stay home tonight as well. One student told me about a plan to buy a niece a lantern at Nanchang market. Other students have told me about this game they play where they have to guess riddles.

I also noticed that the students don't know the English Name for the Lantern Festival. In Chinese, it is called: Yuánxiāojié. Lanterns are called tùzidēng.

How does he make ends meet?

I started teaching the title phrase of this blog entry to students today. I have been asking them to tell me bad economic stories they have heard. Most of the students told me that they tried not to concern themselves about the economy during the New Year holiday.

One student has told me about a friend, a maintenance engineer, who had been laid off. Asking the student this blog entry's title question, he told me that his friend is making ends meet for now. "Unlike many North Americans", he said, "the Chinese are savers." His friend is living off his savings and has a house that is paid for.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Can I call him Grandpa Wen?

I asked the students about Wen Jiabao and Hun Jiantao. What, I asked, does a Prime Minister do in China? They told me that PM Wen looks after the day-to-day running of the government. I then asked them what a President does in China? Their answer was that President Hu looks after other things and can fire the PM if he wants. So, they weren't clear on what the two men's responsibilities were. I thought of asking if their relationship was like Batman and Robin, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but they wouldn't have understood.

The students were uncomfortable with my idea of calling Wen Jiabao, Grandpa Wen. I call him Grandpa because that seems to be the public image he is cultivating on Chinese television.

Wuxi Tony Update #278: Tony laughs sardonically while playing with a ball.

Listen to Tony's laughter

Second Place.

I may have mentioned that I had been trying to rehearse for this singing competition that took this place this evening. I never did get the song Lao Shu Ai Da Mi down pat. I had to refer to notes when I sang it. The only thing that saved me was that I did do an okay version of I got you under my skin - a song that I know by heart.

Still, I came in second winning a shopping card that my wife can use at Carrefour Baoli.

At School, I showed the students the Munchkin scenes from the Wizard of Oz. Most of the students liked the movie - many of them gave the movie five stars out of five. A few said that they were too old for it. But the overall impression was positive - a happy movie with good songs and excellent costumes. I will show the students another part of the film next week. I enjoyed singing songs from that movie to the students. I like to sing but feel uncomfortable when having to do so with music in the background.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My current Mobile Phone Screen Saver....

...shows Beefcake Tony.
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How I got home last night.

First I took the bus. Then I took this.

Bloody Savages.

The title of this blog entry is a tad unfair when it comes to the topic I am talking about, but I am actually relating the complaint of my wife who is a local.

Boarding a bus in Wuxi is not a pleasant experience. It is everyone for themselves. Manners or patience are not exhibited by all age groups. I have seen old women shove people out of the way to get on the bus first. Today, I saw two old men jostle each other in hopes of getting on the bus first and getting a seat. I wish I had my camera with me and taken a video. These two men were in the front of group of thirty that became jammed at the entrance. For about thirty seconds, only two or three more people could get on the bus.

Now I happened to be a witness to this because I was with Tony and we were waiting for Jenny to finish an errand. When Jenny finished the errand I gave her Tony and went back to work while she waited to board the next bus. I mentioned to her how rough the previous group had been when boarding the bus before I left her.

When I got home this evening, she had an experience boarding the very next bus that prompts me to use the harsh blog title. Boarding the bus with Tony, she was shoved out of the way by an old woman. My wife, not being one to hold back her emotion, told the woman off. An old man accompanying the old woman then apparently shoved Tony causing him to cry. If I was there I would have kicked his barbaric ass - what else could I have done?

My wife also tells me that only my presence that will guarrantee her any civilized behavior from other people on the bus. She tells me that if I am not with her, no one would yield a seat to her (woman with babies should have seating privileges). So she has had to stand for forty minutes on the bus with Tony in her arms.

I have had people on the bus treat me a lot nicely. But seeing how the courtesy I get is not extended to the locals, it doesn't say much.

Wuxi girl attempts suicide in bid to donate liver to dying father

Here is the link.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Got You Under My Skin and Lao Shu Ai Da Mi

What do those two songs in this blog entry title have in common? I am going to sing (or destroy)both in public tomorrow at Bao Li. The Chinese song I have spent the last three days trying to learn. The other song I know by heart having heard the recording of Frank Sinatra singing it countless times. If I ever get the words down pat for Lao Shu, it will be easy for me to keep in time with the music. The three times I have sung I Got You by myself I have screwed up the cues two times. Nothing worse than trying to catch up or get yourself in time with the music.

Wuxi Tony Update #277: Go to bed Tony!

Anarchy in the P.R.C.

In this photo, Tony looks like Johnny Rotten from the punk band the Sex Pistols. Here are some lyrics I should maybe teach Tony Rotten.

Anarchy in the P.R.C.!
It coming one day.
Just wait and see.
I know that I want it and I how to get it,
Cause I wanna be an Anarchist!
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Wuxi Tony Update #276: Get With the Program Tony!

The latest but not the best WTU.

Trying to memorize a Chinese song.

I let myself get roped into performing a song for some competition involving foreigners in Wuxi. I decided, without thinking, to perform this Chinese pop song about mice eating rice (Lao Shu Ai Da Mi). The song seemed simple enough. But now that I am up against it for time, (I will perform the song on Saturday night), I find I can't memorize the song perfectly. I am trying to memorize a bunch of sounds that I can't find the logic to. Agonizing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Tony has his fits, but sometimes he has happy fits. For instance, he gets angry when something is taken away from him and he will use all the tactics he can think of to protest in hopes of getting his way. His favorite is to collapse to the ground like he has been shot. How he learned this and other tactics so quickly is another question. But he will also sometimes heartily laugh his head off when something pleases or amuses him. He laughs at my efforts to learn a Chinese song that I have to sing in public this Saturday night. He laughed at seeing these bubbles come from the sky when we were in the basement of Chongan Market in Downtown Wuxi.

Size 12 (46) and Size 13(47) shoes.

In the basement of the Chongan Market in Downtown Wuxi, I was able to find shoes that fit me. The shoes seem to be the most comfortable and perfect-fitting I have ever found in China. The reason for this was that the clerk gave me a size 12 for my left foot and a size 13 for my right. I had always lamented, till this afternoon, that it would be nice if I could somehow purchase a different size shoe for each of my feet. I have often tried on pairs of shoes that were either too big for the left foot or too small for the right.

A student I talked to this afternoon told me that Chinese television made mention of the Wen Jiabao shoe throwing incident. Since there was no way the government could hush the story, the government t.v. tried to turn it into a public relations coup by showing Grandpa Wen saying that the incident would have no effect on the relations between Britain and China.

The fridge is filled with beer; pineapple beer that is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Someone throws a shoe at Wen Jiabao.

Just my luck to be off work tomorrow. I am curious to know their reaction or even if they know about the shoe throwing incident in Cambridge, England.

Interview with Judy, Josie, and Tina

Find out what exciting things these Wuxi Girls did during the Chinese New Year holiday.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Test Post.

This is a test post.  I am sending this entry from my Gmail account.  I think it is a good idea to use this in case I can't access
I would like my very rare readers to refer to this article by Roger Scruton.  In was written in 2001.  But it is probably the best article I have ever seen defending marriage as well as the best article full of marriage advice I have ever read.