Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tony and the stool.

Being a parent to Tony, is like fighting the Vietnam War, a noble undertaking done with one arm tied behind your back, and no one gives you any credit for doing the right thing. Try to make your son into a man, try to make your son honorable, try to make your son know the difference between right and wrong, try to get your son to behave, and lord knows what crimes modernity sees you to be committing. You're better to teach him masturbation, use a condom, to be blind to the faults of people except those whose ancestors worshipped Jesus, and sing kumba ya. That, in a nut shell, is the moral dilemma of our times as I see it.

Anyway, that has nothing really to do with my story of Tony and the stool. It stared two days when Tony sat on the bar stool in our kitchen. Placing him on a stool, I noticed, he was well-behaved and stationary. That is, he stood in one place. When it is supper time, Jenny has a hard time feeding Tony as he becomes elusive, moving to and fro to avoid the spoon or fork. So, I had a bright idea, the first I had in a decade or, so I thought. Placing Tony on this shorter stool we have was an excellent way to get Tony to sit still and eat his supper. For two days the wife was in heaven. But then Tony figured out how to get down from the stool. Fear had been keeping him up there. So, now I am going to have tie or chain him down to get him to eat.

Looking at Tony undress, I realized that sexy legs run in the Kaulins family. If you don't believe this self-evident truth, I will take a video of my legs in which you won't miss a single hair.

After three or four months of glorious, astonishing, incredible, and well-earned increases in the numbers for this blog, I have suddenly and inexorably hit a plateau. Why am I going to do to get the numbers to increase yet again? I suppose I could talk about masturbation, using condoms, singing kumba ya in Chinese, and the illustrated exploits of Wuxi Sexpats.

Wuxi Tony Update 324: Way Cool! - Watch more Funny Videos

Happy May Day!

I work today - April 30th. Then, I have tomorrow off for the May Day holiday. Jenny has suggested that we go to Li Hu for half a day. I am game, sort of. But holidays make for annoyingly large crowds here in China.

What will most of the locals do May Day? Most of them will stay home and watch television, fearing the May Day crowds.

Tony has developed this frustrated whine. It is whine that doesn't seem to indicate what he is mad about. For instance, last night he was playing with a playing card package. He was putting the cards in one by one. But when he was finished, he got angry and took the cards out. I couldn't understand what was annoying him. Was he missing cards? Was he expecting something magical to happen (like something he saw on t.v. maybe)? I couldn't understand. Taking the cards away from him because it was his bed time, he really got angry. And it took me a while to soothe him. He does this when he is putting coins in a container as well.

Jenny tells me that Tony put a pillow in the garbage.

Tony loves to goes through Jenny's purse and wallets. He loves pulling out the money and plastic cards. My wife has so much plastic. I don't mean she has lots of credit cards. Plastic V.I.P. discount cards are a popular way for stores to encourage customer loyalty here in Wuxi.

I predict a Bruins - Red Wings Stanley Cup Final. I hope I am wrong.

Applications keep flowing in for my ad. The market for teaching jobs in China must be tightening. I have heard that schools have been laying off or putting off hiring.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wednesday, in the afternoon.

Well, I did what I said I would in the morning later. That is, I went downtown with Tony and I had no free will just like I said I would in the previous blog entry titled "Wednesday, in the morning."

Tony and I went downtown and played as Jenny shopped. Here are some photos of Tony enjoying himself. I can't get over how fast Tony has grown. It only seems like yesterday, I was thrilled to see him do a mere roll. Now, he can seat himself in a toy car and walk down narrow passageways.

I also took a video of Tony in the afternoon, but you will just have to wait before you can watch it. You still haven't watched the video I took yesterday afternoon. In WTU 323, you can see Tony play with coins and yours truly make a face and wink.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wednesday, in the morning.

It tooks like the Family K (in latin, the Familia K or the Prosapia K) will be going to the downtown of Wuxi, China today. The plans seem vague to me. The wife said something about my looking after Tony and her shopping.

In the meanwhile, you can enjoy Wuxi Tony Update #322. The WTU series now on Vimeo till Youtube is unblocked.

Wuxi Tony Update #322: Tony at a playground. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Self-Contradictory Gratifications.

From a Theodore Dalrymple Book Review in the City Journal there was a sentence, or rather clause that stuck out: educated, prosperous, but slightly dissatisfied Westerners roam the world in search of self-contradictory gratifications;. Now, I can't label myself as prosperous (as a Westerner) though I may be more prosperous than most of the people here in China. But the words dissatisfied and self-contradictory do certainly apply to me. Why I am dissatisfied is hard to explain. Really, I shouldn't be. I have gotten through this life with my faculties intact so far. I am wising onto things like dissatisfaction is the lot of everyone in life. I would readily admit the self-contradictory things I do, but life is paradoxical and the achievement of any consistency would bring on insanity. But being in China is a selling of one's soul in a way. I am in a situation where it is best to be an outsider. But it is the things that are close that involve one. Feeling an outsider in one's own culture, it is self-contradictory to be an outsider in a place that is truly foreign.

New Canadian Citizenship laws kick in. Am I part of the Canadian diaspora?

Via Seablogger, I have learned of some expats getting Canadian citizenship. Peter Jennings, an anchorman at a prominent American television network and a Canadian citizen, had children in America. His children will get Canadian citizenship. However, Jennings's grandchildren will not if they are born abroad because of a new law.

I find this interesting because I was not born in Canada. Because my parents were Canadian citizens (they were born in Latvia), when I was born in Germany, I was able to get Canadian citizenship. My son Tony, because he was born to a Canadian citizen abroad, has just received his Canadian citizenship. But this new law means that if Tony's children are born abroad, they may not get Canadian citizenship. Or doesn't it? I am confused about this as Seablogger (though for different reasons) who was reading this article from an Ottawa newspaper report on new Canadian citizenship laws.

One sentence in the article just might strike out at me: I could be part of the "growing diaspora of disengaged (Canadian) citizens who live permanently abroad, who aren't assuming any of the responsibilities and obligations, but enjoy almost all of its rights and privileges."

This son of Latvian diasporans is becoming a Canadian diasporan himself.

Wuxi Tony Update #321: Tony sits on a bar stool.

Vimeo seems to be working for me for now. Here is Tony being well-behaved sitting on a bar stool at an island in the kitchen of AKICistan.

Wuxi Tony Update #321: Tony in the kitchen from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Saturday in AKICistan.

Andis Kaulins in China is the blog that KICs ass. Anyway, if it is Tuesday, it means you are in AKICistan which means it is Saturday. Understand? Well if you don't, you are beyond help. But don't give up hope. You are still allowed to read my blog.

Two wonderful days off await me. But will they be wonderful? Will they be days off? It is up to Jenny who says it is up to me but I can't buy her argument that I possess free will in our marriage.

I asked the students what they favorite English words were. I told them my favorite Chinese expression was MamaHuHu. In return, they listed expressions like: "Fall in Love", "Encourage" and "Stupid". Of course it was the stupid student that said "stupid". Taking literally, to "fall in love" is a strange expression. I suppose the student had images of two lovers hand in hand, falling from the top of a high building or mountain into the blissful state. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tony has is using his feet to kick doors open. He must have caught a police show on t.v. or something.

The Wizard of Oz DVD plays on the t.v.

Here is the third and last video I took at that Maoist Restaurant on Xicheng Road.

Cultural Revolution Redux: Here come the Japanese from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

More Maoist Revival Video.

Here is a little video I took at that Restaurant.

Cultural Revolution Redux: Singing the praises of... from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

The final set of Maoist Restaurant Photos.

In the first two photos, the Japanese get their comeuppance.

Some of the staff posed for a photo with the Kaulins Boys.

Yet more photos from the Maoist Revivalist Restaurant.

The Live Show was certainly patriotic.

Photos of the live show at the Retro-Maoist Restaurant (and some staff too)

This restaurant on Xicheng Road in Wuxi, China was a blast to go to. I can't say much about the food as I was totally absorbed in the atmosphere of the place. This was certainly the best musical performance I have been to since I saw the Pistols in the Pacific Coliseum in the early 1990s.

English Trainers needed at HyLite School in Wuxi starting immediately, 8500 RMB / Month.

My School needs one more full-time trainer ASAP. If you are interested, you can visit here for application information.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Floor Show at the Restaurant I went to last night.

The restaurant the K Family went to last night, was something else. Here is the first of a series of three videos to prove that assertion.

Cultural Revolution Redux: Singing and Marching. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Wuxi Tony Update #320: More video of the Cultural Revolution Redux Restaurant.

More video of Tony at the Xicheng Road Restaurant.

Wuxi Tony Update #320: Cultural Revolution Redux from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Wuxi Tony Update #319

The incredible Wuxi Tony Update series is now on Vimeo!

Wuxi Tony Update #319: Spoons and Red Guards from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Tony, Andis, and the Red Guards.

The Family K went to a restaurant on Wuxi's Xicheng Road that has a Cultural Revoultionary theme. The Restaurant has its staff dress like Red Guards. There are plenty of photos of Chairman Mao and other such memorabilia plastered all over the restaurant. Customers are entertained by a high-octane floor show, better than anything you would see at Ronnies, featuring authentic Cultural Revolution music and moralty plays. The restaurant, "where the customer is the leader(shouzhang), and the staff are peasants(pinxiazhongnong)", also serves Birthday Parties.

More video and photos of this curious place to follow.....

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It has to be a sunny Sunday here in Wuxi. I could have used an overcast day. The bus into downtown was packed to the gills. It didn't help that I had to carry a pram (which my wife will pick up later this afternoon).

Anyway, it shows why public transportation sucks. I remember reading someone defending it by saying that on the bus or train you could read. Really? Hard to hold a book when you are trying to keep your balance.

Jenny tells me that Tony missed me while he was in Beixing but, now that he is home and used to me, he prefers to be with her.

I was working through King Lear last evening. Funny how now reading in bed means I fall asleep easily. It never used to be that way for me.

Dumb me. My mobile phone was acting strangely. I had plugged an earpiece into it so I could listen to a podcast. Unplugging the earpiece left the phone "thinking" there was still an earpiece plugged in, so the phone's speakers were not working. All I had to do to fix the problem was turn the phone on and off. At work, I was asking to borrow some one's earpiece.

I shouldn't bother talking about Oprah. What's the point? But, after reading accounts of his sitting through some diatribe from Daniel Ortega, I find it hard to believe that Oprah wasn't present for the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's inflammatory sermons.

Saturday Night at Casa K

  • Congratulations to Cecilia (that is her English name) and her husband on the birth of their son yesterday. Cecilia lives in an apartment down the lane from Casa K.
  • Tony achieved another historical first this evening. He ate a meal by himself. That is, he ate a bowl of corkscrew noodles with a fork, with little assistance from his mother or me.
  • I took Tony to the nearby square (of which you can see photos if you look in this blog archives) with a scooter that I hoped he was going to ride. He didn't and he also didn't want to walk so I carried two burdens in my arms for no particular reason. This scooter is one that Tony can sit on, that Tony can steer, and that Tony can move using his feet.
  • If Tony goes to sleep early tonight, I will have an evening of Shakespeare (King Lear) and Davies (What's Bred in the Bone).

Tony and his chips

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saturday in Wuxi, China.

  • China has doubled its gold reserves. It is wise thing that they do.
  • My son Tony loves rough-housing with me. The past week, since his return from Beixing, our favorite activity has been to play Crash Daddy!. Tony charges at me; I put my arms up to deflect his onslaught. He think it's the best thing.
  • A student, I just had, had never heard of Spell Checkers before.
  • In the NHL playoffs, it looks as if the Canucks will meet the winner of the Flames-Black Hawks series. Unless, of course, the Sharks can come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Ducks in which case the Canucks would play the Red Wings in the second round. This Canucks' enthusiast says "Go Ducks Go!". He also says "Go Black Hawks!".
  • Lately, I have had these people approach me, with mobile phones in their hands, trying to sell them to me. Where did they get those phones? They are probably stolen.
  • Twitter needs a spam follower filter. I just made five tweets and quickly had two new followers.
  • This morning, Tony grabbed a bag of chips my wife had opened last night, and was eating the leftover chips. He even tried to feed me some.
  • I told my wife I was thinking of taking some time off work. I have vacation time coming. However, my wife took me to mean that it was good as done. She went ahead and made the plans. She wasn't happy when I told her she had to scuttle them. Oops!
  • From John Derbyshire and Radio Derb: The Oprah administration has declared Canada to be a security threat: Our Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has hit the ground running. She is determined to make the homeland secure, and is launching initiatives all over the place. To begin with, Secretary Napolitano has identified the two great looming threats to our security: Canada, and our own conservatives. On the first of those, she told a symposium at the Brookings Institution last month that the administration will take steps to make the U.S.-Canadian border more secure. From June 1st this year, Canadians will have to show a passport when entering the U.S.A. This is great news for us immigration restrictionists. It offers the hope that the flow of Canadian high-school dropouts into our northern states will at last be stanched. American citizens in Montana and Minnesota will no longer have to wait in line at the hospital emergency desk behind people named Mackenzie and Tweed using it as their primary health-care service. Schoolteachers in Washington State will no longer have to waste their time dealing with kids who think the last letter of the alphabet is called "zed." Loggers in Maine will no longer have their wages undercut by illegal Quebecois labor. The streets of Fargo and Boise will no longer be terrorized by gangs like the dreaded Moose Marauders or the even more dreaded MS-13. ("MS" of course standing for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 13 being the average number of years you have to wait for hip replacement surgery in Toronto.) Perhaps we'll even be able to dispense with those annoying phone menus that tell you to press 2 if you prefer to hear the word "about" pronounced "aboot." Yes, this may be the first step to reclaiming America from invading hordes speaking incomprehensible languages!
  • I often tell the students if they want to go to America, they should move to Mexico first, and then cross the border.
  • The wife tells me that fruit and vegtables are getting more expensive.
  • Are you theory X or theory Y? Researching, in a cursory manner on the Internet, I have found that theory X and Y are competing theories of management styles. Theory X means being more autocratic in management style; Theory Y means being, I would assume, more humane and understanding and tolerant. Now I can remember way back when I was in High School (Neelin High School, Brandon, Manitoba) being handed this questionaire about whether you had Theory X or Theory Y beliefs. I understood it then to mean that if you were a Theory X person, you had a negative view of humanity and the opposite for Theory Y. Most of the students taking this questionaire scored 90 to 10 in favour of Theory Y. One student, who was going to become a cars salesman as soon as he graduated, was the one solid Theory X person. I think of this person as being the only person worthy of admiration from my high school days. I scored 51-49 probably in favour of Theory Y. I thought then that people behave badly depending on the situation. As I have lived out my life, I am becoming more and more of a Theory X person.

So much reading...

I have a few things I want to read now. At least six to begin with. There is the Robertson Davies novel, King Lear (Sharkespeare's birthday you see), a Latin grammar, a Greek grammar, a book of Chinese readings (in pinyin), and the Complete Spengler.

60th anniversary of something or other in Wuxi.

Did I mention Tony is now officially twenty months old? Well, if I did, sue me. Be that as it may, time sure flies.

I read in a Wuxi news site that it was the sixtieth anniversary of some Wuxi liberation. I asked the students what the liberation of Wuxi was from. They told me that it was from the KMT occupation by the Communists.

I walked to school with a strange feeling in my shoes. It was like I was stepping on rocks. It turned out that Tony had thrown his coins in my shoes. Jenny tells me that Tony later cried because he couldn't find his coins.

I am a white person with blue eyes. Brazil's Marxist president Lula blames "white people with blue eyes." What did I ever do to him?

Also from the article:
There's only one useful rule for predicting human beings:
People tend to do in the future what they did in the past
I hope that doesn't apply in my case!

Study Latin and Ancient Greek? If I have the time. Why not?

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


No electric bike today. It is raining.

The bus drove a lot of the way downtown with its back door open. The driver must have been dopey. But he wasn't as dopey as the other driver on his route. That driver rear ended a car.

A leaky pipe in the school building is too difficult to fix. So, a basin is placed permanently under the leak. Periodically, the person, sitting at the desk underneath, will be dripped on. And so someone has to remove ceiling panels to take down the basin and empty it.

People screaming on their mobile phones can't be very distracting and unnerving. There were a few of those on the bus.

Victor David Hanson says this about Mohammed Ali: Here it is—I never admired Mohammed Ali. Not that much at all. He was a brilliant boxer, but his megalomania ushered a number of deleterious trends into all sports—the ego-driven gestures (which were to be later manifested in everything from spiking the ball to trash talking the opponent) were all repellent. When I was young, I was thrilled by Ali. Reading the accounts of his bouts with Norton, Frazier, and Foreman certainly captured my young imagination. But then there were the many silly things he did like try to box against a wrestler, and keep fighting well beyond his own good. His last fight, which he lost, if I remember correctly was against some Canadian based boxer. Ali's brashness has lead to sharpie-touting NFL wide receivers and the ethos of repellent hip-hop and rap music. If he was only a boxer, his legacy might be something to be admired.

Annoying Day

Thank God, I have Tony. Our pillow fight tonight made my day. The child's laughter is genuine and infectious.

Otherwise, it was an annoying day because of:

  • Paperwork
  • Lazy students. How could this one Intermediate student not know how to make sentences using the present perfect when she is already half-way through the course?
  • Conniving students. I can't really explain that. But I will get them.
  • The closure of the third floor of the Nanchang Book Market where I like to buy the bargain old movie DVDs. I don't know if the floor is being closed for renovation or because of the Chinese habit of destroying a good old thing to replace with something soullessly modern. I suppose that will make my wife happy. Why pay 6 to 10 rmb for movies that are awful? Now I can't use the twice the quality for half the price to justify my purchases. I have felt so disappointed since the Sichuan Girls Restaurant was rennovated and went to shit.
  • Stupid bus station employees. That was actually yesterday that this complaint originates but thinking about I am frothing. This certain bus station I go to I have always found myself wanting to slug one of the employees. They seem to get a kick out of seeing a Foreigner carrying luggage for one thing. Yesterday, I had one of the wing nuts who work there (must be a government job) stop me from going to help my wife take the luggage off the bus.
  • Staring locals. A good way to stop the locals from starring at you is to stare back. I am also thinking of shocking them by pulling out a camera and taking a photo. As was said in Pee Wee's Big adventure: "Why don't you take a picture, it will last longer?"

But other than that (and some other things), I love China...

Wuxi Tony Update #317 on clipshack

Click on the thumbnail below and you can get WTU #317. I have uploaded it to clipshack.

Wuxi Tony Update #318: Tony puts a garbage can on his head.

Since Youtube is blocked in China, and proxies are not helping, I have tried other video upload sites including Yahoo!, Break!, and now Clipshack.

Here is the link if you can't see the embeded player.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dumb Boy!

The photo speaks for itself.
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Tony and the garbage can.

Tony is putting cards into the garbage bin. He will then dump the cards out and put them back in the bin.
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Wandering near Baoli

Yesterday, I used my last moments of freedom, before picking up Jenny and Tony, wandering an alleyway near the Baoli Shopping Mall in Downtown Wuxi.

This is a snack street.

Pineapples for sale at this small shop.

This alleyway leads to the Baoli Shopping Mall. Again, you can see fruit for sale.

Go a little further down the alley and you see Baoli. Notice the posters of fashion models on the building's facade.

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Return makes me too busy to blog.

The wife and son's return last night meant no too much blogging. I took Tony for a walk last night and then the whole family hit the sack early (930 PM).

This morning, Tony gave the maid a hug. He hadn't seen her for a week. Amazing. At least, to me.

They are back. Mousetrap that works.

Tony and Jenny are back. Here is the video. I would like to embed the video but a funny thing happened. I was able to upload the video. However I can't play it. Maybe the url to play videos on Yahoo! is being blocked. This means I can't get the code for the embeddable player. So if you are in China, you may not be able to watch the video. Hopefully, my parents can. Dad, Mom, click on the words "the video" with your mouse. I see later if I can embed WTU #317 on this blog.

Before I picked up two thirds of the Family K at the bus station. I wandered about the downtown. I saw this man who looked to be selling mousetraps. You can see he had his wares laid out on a sidewalk.

Like a restaurant with tanks and cages full of live animals and fish being used to provide the customers of the freshness of their dishes, this man provides actual proof of the efficiency of his mouse traps with a trapped mouse...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Jenny and Tony, or Tony and Jenny will be back this afternoon. Their bus leaves Beixing at 1300 and should be in Wuxi by 1500.

I finished watching the fourth season of the Wire last night. I hope they get Marlo Stanfield in the fifth. Wuxi Expats, I have fifth season on DVD. I bought a tall pack with all five seasons of the show for about 20 rmb.

Now, I watch Black Sunday, a thriller made in the 1970s (I remember going to see it in the theatre) about Palestinian terrorists plotting to use a Good Year Blimp to kill everyone at a Super Bowl game (when the Steelers meet the Cowboys in Super Bowl X - a game I remember watching)

AKICistan goes to the park. Tony and Jenny's iminent return.

I am counting down the hours till Tony and Jenny return. Jenny tells me the bus leaves Beixing at 1200 noon and should arrive in Wuxi about 1500. This gives me the morning to clean the apartment and remove evidence of any maleficence.

My last full day of so-called freedom saw me wander the area around Xihui Park to take photos.

This is a tree-lined street that looks better in the photo than in person.

In this photo, construction workers watch a girl posing for a photo shot. I couldn't tell if she was modelling or posing for wedding portraits.

This old men were playing chess in the shade of an overpass near the park.

Here is the entrance to Xihui. I didn't go in.

I shall upload some more photos from my wander later tonight or tomorrow.
I learned from some students that this 325,000 square meter Sunning Plaza is being built on the grounds of the old People's Number One Hospital.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Near AKICistan

It's Tuesday so you must be in AKICistan. Where is AKICistan? It is here where I am. But it can also be there that I go. So AKICistan is here, there, and everywhere. For now, the best place to find it is Wuxi.

In front of AKICistan the following could be seen:

Why did I take this photo below? Because I thought it was strange to look out my front window and see a parked bicycle, a thermos for tea, and what also turned out to be a makeshift chair.

The owner of the bicycle above must have been working with the group, shown below, who were cutting grass and manicuring bushes.

The things that came past my window that I don't take photos of! This morning, there was a garbage collector with bicycle, wide straw hat, and wagon who was a perfect subject for a photo. Unfortunately, I couldn't bring my camera out fast enough and he rode out of range.

I did take a photo of some people walking past AKICistan with luggage. I know exactly what these people are doing. They are humping their luggage to get to the train station or bus station downtown. They are first heading to the bus stop, near Casa AKICistan, to catch the #25 bus which goes downtown. If these people are lucky, they may get a seat. However, their belongings will be trampled on either way. The westerner first thinks why they don't take a taxi but, they probably can't afford it. The annoyances they have to put up are worth the 35 rmb savings and are incomprehensible to the spoiled.


You know those times where you can't quite make out the lyric in the song you are listening to? They have a word for it: Mondegreen. One example I can think of is "Smoke over Water" being misheard as "Slow Motion Walter".

Mondegreens are one of the reasons that when it comes to pop music, I am first and foremost a fan of Frank Sinatra. Listening to his recordings, he is always understandable. There isn't a need to consult a lyric sheet. I would say that making your listeners have to consult one shows the singer is a piker. Mick Jagger has been slurring his words all his career - and gotten away with it.

Says Rule Forty Two, Mondegreens can be found in every area of the spoken word. For the longest time, I have thought "Expatriate" was spelled "Expatriot", and "Upon" was spelt "apond". Teaching English as a second language, Mondegreens are an occupational hazard. I will never forget the answer two young girls gave me when I asked them if they would ever cheat on their husbands: "Yes, but only in the first year." Many times, I have had the students answer yes to a "What is?" question - "What" being something other than an interrogative. In spoken Chinese, with its tones, Mondegreens are a source of many jokes and foreign misunderstandings.

Spengler on Boyle

Spengler does not have such an enthusiastic take on the success of that Boyle woman. He actually sees her success as evidence of decline of the West. He ends his piece with the following two paragraphs:

China's thrift, industry and diligence are qualities born of long experience with hard times. The terrible suffering of the 19th and 20th centuries left every Chinese parent with the conviction that the world shows no mercy to mediocrity. They have less tolerance for fantasy than their Western counterparts. Reality has intruded on their lives for generations to the point that they are ready to meet it head on. Enough of them devote their lives to making their children excel as to produce an army of hothouse wonders so large as to swamp whatever competition the West might send against them. If Westerners think the present recession is unpleasant, they cannot begin to imagine how the recovery will look, for it may occur entirely remote to them, on the other side of the world.

It is harder and harder to dismiss the awful thought that Americans, too, might require long experience with hard times to restore the sort of diligence that their Chinese counterparts learned at such a high price.

My experience teaching English in China bears out what Spengler says. I thought it strange that the students answered "what would you do.." or "have you ever dreamed of.." questions with what I thought were depressingly realistic answers like "I don't have the money!" or "I never dreamed of being a movie or sports star." Hard times make the Chinese appreciate the mundane things like sleep for instance.

Overdoing it?

In a day or so, I will be counting the hours till Jenny and Tony are back in Wuxi. I have talked to them on the phone everyday. Talking to me on the mobile, Tony can imitate the sound I make when I stroke my lips with my finger - that babbling gurgling noise.

In these days of freedom, I haven't gone to complete seed. Though I have been a couch potato watching DVDs (3 episodes to go of the fourth season of the Wire), the apartment is a lot neater than when Mister Tony prowls about. And I can proudly say that I haven't drunk any alcohol in the time the wife has been away. Old Andis is keeping a promise that Young Andis made to himself all those years ago.

There was a ground breaking ceremony for the planned construction of another commercial investment plaza in Wuxi. From the Wuxi news: The plaza, which has 68 levels and a total floor area of 320,000 sqm according to plan, has incorporated shopping mall, super-five-star hotel, high-end office area, high-class hotel apartment, large electric appliance store. The shopping center has an area of 100,000 sqm and occupies 8 floors. To me this is blatant over development on the part of somebody. On the way to Huishan New City, there is another large commercial plaza with giant Ferris Wheel, hotel, and shopping mall that hasn't been complete yet. The shopping areas I already see around Wuxi don't seem to be packed with shops and shoppers.

I was looking through my book collection today. And what a mighty fine book collection it is. It has to be the finest personal library of any Wuxi Expat. Within, you can find works of Plato, Mordecai Richler, Louis L'Amour, Evelyn Waugh, Florence King, and Elmore Leonard. And it contains very few works of science fiction - thank God! I forgot I had a copy of the Robertson Davies novel Bred to the Bone. Well, I am going to be reading that novel for the next few days.

I finished reading the Pierre Trudeau biography. Apparently, Malcom Muggeridge meet Trudeau and said our 1970s P.M. was all style and no substance. Style was the only constant with Trudeau whose flip-flopped on more issues than a fish out of water. As well, Trudeau only achievements didn't quite have the results he had been hoping for (e.g. constitution and official bilingualism).

Here are some more CWWF* match ups:

Matsui versus Wang
Yagoda and Ichiro versus Yang and Feng
Ito versus Yitao
Yokozuma versus Bei Ting
Traitor in Foreign Pay versus Bald head
Fat Lady versus Splendorous Sunshine Girl
Kong Yiji versus Ah Q (for the JUWW belt)

* Chinese Workers Wresting Federation

Students' Favorite English Words.

Ask a silly question. Get silly answers. I asked some students what their favorite English words are. They told me the following words: Fresh, Money, God, Christmas, Love, Sunshine, I, and President.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Night and Everything is what it is.... Photos to prove it.

Sunday Evening for this temporary bachelor. I have watched DVDs (two more episodes of the Wire, fourth season). Now, I do some late-night-before-I-go-to-bed blogging. I haven't much to say other than it rained all day and I had a salami sandwich for supper.

What I do have for you are some photos I took Saturday Evening.

The first photo was taken in the Muslim Restaurant of our apartment complex. The child, you can see outside the door, belongs to the owners. His pants are split-ass and his parents let him play on the asphalt.

In the second photo, this government building with courtyard, in my modest corner of Wuxi, is not a major building in the area.

In the third photo, you can see a building that might well be the major government building of Hui Shan New City.

Here is a photo of my wife and child that I took the last day I saw them.

Three days and they are back. You see I have no reason to want to return to being a bachelor.

I have just seen a photo of Hugo Chavez and Oprah shaking hands. It is so sad. How can this help anybody? It is like giving an unrepentant juvenille a pat on the back.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Church Goers in Wuxi, China

There was a good crowd attending Sunday morning services at the church besides our school.


Am I an misanthrope? I sometimes like to think I am. But reading Florence King, the author of the best book on Misanthropy, to truly be an misanthrope one has to have high standards. Also, true misanthropes are born. I was born shy. So I found myself, in my teenage years, thinking myself as a loner. I even looked in literature and movies for loners to admire. Discovering Florence King's writings, it seemed cooler to describe myself as misanthropic. But that is the problem - it seems cool. Coolness is ultimately phony. Coolness is about forgoing conscience that I mentioned in the previous blog entry. But I am making a mental connection that I find impossible to explain.

Anyway, like my e-mailer, whom I have been writing to about this topic recently, I am reluctant to be misanthropic all the time. I wish I could find some people who I can really appreciate. But it is hard. Still, I have to myself put in others' shoes and ask if there is anything about me that can be appreciated.

So, much as misanthropy appeals to me, I have to label myself a wannabe.


Powerful stuff: two standards become apparent for ascertaining the presence of a real voice or conscience. First, conscience is not identical to personal wishes and taste. Secondly, conscience cannot be reduced to social advantage, to group consensus or to the demands of political and social power....

Can life be easy if this wasn't so? Life is never easy as we would like it to be.

Sunday Morning as a Bachelor.

I was up at 630 am this morning. So much for being a bachelor. I've showered, shaved, and now am blogging (while listening to a podcast on my mobile phone). I do have the freedom to blog as I please (till I have to go to work), but I've nothing much to say for myself. I can't report Tony's misdemeanours.

Talking to the wife last night (on the phone), I did hear that Tony is now able to ascend and descend a particular step at his grandparent's house. He as well created a mess yesterday when he took a cup, being used as an ashtray, and spilled it on a chair, floor, and his clothes.

Satturday Night DVD watching

I watched about four hours of DVDs tonight. What a lazy couch potato I am! Though I can say I was feeling antsy sitting there. As for my DVD watching, I saw two episodes of the Wire (season Four, episodes three and four) and so am back to where I was watching the series in the first place when family matters made it impossible for me to keep up with the series. That is, I am caught up. I may have to do a marathon session tomorrow night to make it through the fourth season before Jenny and Tony return. I also watched Double Indemnity with Fred McMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson. It was an okay movie but McMurray's playing of a tough "hey baby!" bachelor seemed overdone. Edward G. made me regret that I never joined an insurance company. Robinson made claim investigation seem a real treat of a job.

5,000 foreigners in Wuxi.

Read here.

Chinese Students Stanley Cup Playoff Prediction.

Last night, I asked my English Corner to make predictions about the NHL playoffs. None of the students are hockey fans. I have only met one person from Wuxi who follows the NHL (she is a Red Wings fan). Still, I asked the students for predictions. I got them to predict match up winners based on team nicknames. Using this unscientific approach based on complete ignorance of the actual teams and players, the students made a plausible prediction. They say the Detroit Red Wings (number two seed in the West) will beat the New Jersey Devils (number three seed in the East) in the Stanley Cup Final. They have the Black Hawks losing out to the Red Wings in the Western conference final. The Devils defeat the Flyers in the Eastern Final.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Maybe Tony should learn to play the piano.

I have been reading Spengler. Here he talks about China's six to one advantage over America in music.

CWWF Wrestling.

Tonight, live in Wuxi, China, the Chinese Worker's Wrestling Federation presents for your entertainment, an evening of wonderful wrestling competition featuring some of the following matches:

Big Bad Fat Guy versus Harmonious Countryside Man
Patriotic Soldier versus Japanese Invader
Reactionary versus Liberation Man
Monkey King and Pig Man versus Sorcerer and Landlord in a metal wire container
Jackal and Eagle versus Panda and Dragon
Cixi versus Lei Feng
Emperor Hirohito versus Bare Foot Peasant Doctor
Hulking Hogan versus Bruce Lee Two
Wonderful Man versus Unpleasant Person

Please remember to remind every one of your friends to watch. Tickets only 25 rmb.

An Advice Column From Spengler.

  • In this advice column by Spengler, a reader slash leader from a very populous country asks what else they can do, besides a domestic stimulus, in reviving their economy. Spengler's answer may surprise you. He also provides a simple but true explanation of last year's housing bubble burst: The baby boomers imagined that home prices would keep doubling every 10 years, and that one day, each of them would sell his house to his neighbor and retire. This silly idea contributed to a bubble in home prices.
  • No DVD viewing this Friday night. AKIC is tired and wants to get some sleep.

My Book Reading Interests

1.Most treasured childhood books?
Nothing comes to mind.

2.Classics you are embarrassed to admit you have never read?
War and Peace

3.Classics you read but hated?
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

4.Favorite Genres?
Political Non Fiction

5.Favorite Light Reading?
P.D. Wodehouse
Evelyn Waugh

6.Favorite Heavy Reading?
Milton Friedman
F.A. Hayek
Roger Scruton

7.Last books you have finished?
The Northern Magus by Richard Gwynn
The Wizard of Oz by Baum

8.Last books you bailed on?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
FDR’s principles of leadership

9.Books you have read more than once?
With Charity Toward None: A Fond look at Misanthropy by Florence King
The Northern Magus by Richard Gwynn
Homage to Catalona by George Orwell
Will by G. Gordon Liddy
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (actually all of his books)
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek (also the Fatal Conceit)

10.The book that meant the most to you when you were younger?
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Hockey Stars of 1974
The books of J.K. Galbraith (I have smartened up since then)

11.Books that changed the way you looked at life?
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
The Fatal Conceit by F.A. Hayek
Orthodoxy by Chesterton

12.Books on your nightstand?
Confessions of Saint Augustine
The Dialogues of Plate
King Lear

13.Books some would be surprised to know you have read?
It by Stephen King
Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
A biography of Ed Broadbent
Henry Miller
William S. Burroughs

14.Books you mean to read this year?
The Bible
That biography of Mao
God is not great by Christipher Hitchens
Anything by William F. Buckley
America Alone by Mark Steyn
Obama's first book
The Journey to the West
Anything by Lu Xun

Desert Island book?
The Bible

15.Desert Island book for your worst enemy?
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wife and Son not coming home just yet.

With the wife not coming till next week, after all, it looks like AKICistan readers will be subjected to more of my DVD reviews.

I will be watching Double Indemnity among others over the next three days.

I will also be telling you if I got rid of the odour in the microwave oven caused by my burning popcorn. I bought a lemon yesterday which I then chopped up and put in a bowl of water. Following instructions I found on the Internet, I continually boiled the bowl of lemon water in the microwave in hopes of ridding the oven of the strong odour of burnt popcorn.

La Grande Illusion (1937)

Last night, I finished watching La Grande Illusion, a masterpiece of world cinema. I quite enjoyed the film. It is supposively anti-war but the two things that struck me about the film were the conservative themes of religion, and honor and chivalry. I suppose these two things were the illusions that the film's titles refers to. But I found the gentlemanly conduct of the officers to be a much more civilized way of dealing with human conflict than the emphatic and understanding ways Obama and his ilk have of dealing with conflict now. The officers in the movie recognize that each has a job to do. The captors recognize the p.o.w.'s must try to escape. There is an understanding between both, a gentleman's understanding. Everyone at the same time hates the war and can hardly wait for it to end. But no one descends to the barbarity of "can't we all get along?". The film has some fantastic shots of mountain scenery. The multi-lingual aspect of the film was quite enjoyable for me because I found I could pick up on a lot of the French that was spoken. It was also interesting to see English as a foreign language. The film was a prison escape movie that reminded me of the Great Escape. The hero in the poster to the left could easily have been a French Steve McQueen - the camera was in love with him

Will she or won't she? And what will I do?

The wife may or may not be coming back to Wuxi this afternoon. Which would mean that Tony would be coming back also. Follow me on twitter to learn what she choose to do.

I will take the bike to school today. The weather today should be good for it. The previous two days have seen strange contrasts. Wednesday was hot. It was too hot to go outside. I wore a short sleeved shirt outside for the first time in 2009. Thursday was much cooler - at least 10 degrees lower. It was back to jacket and long sleeves.

This morning, I have an important decision to make: do I wear my jean or suede jacket on my ride to work?

Lisa, some students, and me.

I have a life you know. I am not just a father and husband and blogger and raconteur extraordinaire. I also have a job. Above, you can see me sitting next to the lovely Lisa in front of a group of students we got to teach for the last three months.

Tony don't like Beixing.

My wife informs me, via mobile phone, that Tony does not like it in Beixing. He would rather be outside than stay in the Grandparents' house. There is a good chance that Tony and Jenny will return to Wuxi tomorrow.
I suspect that Tony misses the comforts of home. There isn't any couch so comfy in Beixing as there is in Casa K where Tony can be seen lounging in the photo above.
My boy will not be allowed to become a couch potato! When he is mature enough, he will have to earn respites, like the one in the photo above, the honest way through solid, sustained effort.
China is developing a strategic metals stockpile. A wise decision on their part.
I watched episode 2 of season 4 of the Wire last night. I then watched part of Renoir's Grand Illusion. It is funny to see a move where English is a foreign language and the anglos are off to the side. In Grand Illusion, they sing "It is a long way to Tipperary" over and over again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #316: the last WTU for a week.

My son Tony and my wife Jenny are in Beixing, my wife's hometown, right now. They took a four p.m. bus home. I help send them off. I stared at Tony and Jenny as they sat in the bus waiting for it to depart. Much as I chafe against the restrictions that being a husband and father require, I wished my wife and son would return tomorrow. Now, I have to keep myself occupied. I want to instill some discipline in myself, I don't want this freedom to cause me to go to seed. Wife and children keep one from going to seed.

Here is a video I took of Tony this morning. Pardon my French to those who decide to watch it.

This will be the last video of Tony you will see for a week. I can be thankful that my wife changed her mind and didn't decide to stay in Beixing for two weeks.

An ominous occurence in Tony's development: Tony, not happy at being forbidden something decided to physically go after the authority. Not letting Tony take something from the drawer, I picked him up, and he slapped and grabbed at my face.

I will spend my free time watching DVDs. I have just finished watching The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. I figured I should watch something from the current cinema. Seeing Rourke's crazy acceptance speech at some awards ceremony where he was named the best actor for his role in the Wrestler caused me to buy the DVD. Seeing the acceptance speech and then watching the film, I wonder if Rourke was just being himself in the film. Scenes taken of him working in a supermarket could just have easily have been him working in a supermarket for a late night t.v. show. Of course, Rourke must have beefed up for the film. But, Rourke is a charming guy who lets people down. He is a walking, charming disaster. From what I have heard of his film career, that seems to be the kind of guy Rourke is. And that is the character he portrays in the film. A wrestler with a brief moment of brilliance turned wash-out because he can't stay responsible. Right after a touching reunion scene with a daughter he had abandoned, he is shown doing something nasty with a young groupie.

The previous DVD I watched was of the the film Top Hat starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The contrast between the Wrestler and Top Hat needless to say is huge. But I think I can come up with a parralel from the two films. Astaire and Rourke both have great screen presence. But Astaire can not only act, he can sing and dance. Rourke does a brief sing and dance to a 1980s heavy metal song in the Wrestler that is nothing special except for the observation the character makes. According to the Rourke character, eighties music was great because it was about having a good time. Cobain, Rourke's character continues, ruined this feeling. I have a similar observation to make about movies. Older films like Top Hat were escapist and fun. Many current films like the Wrestler aren't at all escapist but big downers. Rourke's wrestler character decides that a job at the Supermarket isn't good enough for him and it is better to risk a heart attack in the ring just one last time...

I have made mention in my vidoes, but I haven't yet in type till now: Happy Birthday to my mother Aina in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.