Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teaching Harry Moore to be a Gurkha Teacher.

I have told Harry he will have to teach like a Gurkha.  For after all, most plans (lesson plans) do not survive first contact with the enemy (students).  To get Harry on "his toes" and to get him to always be able to instantly adopt "Gurkha teaching postures", I am always sneaking up on him, startling by my unexpected appearances and sudden loud noises.
This is the first morning of not having a maid in the apartment.  I will have to do some cleaning myself but what?
I watched the Titanic movie and survived.  In fact, many did, but just barely.  These thoughts come to mind as I read news that the last Titanic survivor has passed away.
I spend my evenings waiting for Tony to get to sleep.  Before, he actually does, he can be very violent.

Wuxi Tony Update #343 is now online on Vimeo!

You can watch it here:

Wuxi Tony Update #343: Wuxi Andis speaks Chinese

Wuxi Tony Update #343: .

I was hoping to put this video on a Chinese video site so I spoke Chinese.  The Chinese location for WTU 343 is here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunday Morning.

You can follow me minute-to-minute on Twitter.  I am tweeting instead of doing much blogging these days.  I got to keep busy.
Previously, I wrote a complaining entry about being the last to know about a wedding of a staff member at my school.  Talking a little more about this to some of the Chinese staff, I did learn that it was only natural that I would not have known.  Even with each other, the Chinese do not speak directly - they leave clues.
Shame on me for making hay of it.
The wife fired the maid on Friday.  I think that this time, the firing will stick.  The wife had tried to fire the maid before but she just came back.  The wife was not happy with the lady's work.
I couldn't imagine teaching in Seoul which is so close to the border with Crazyland.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A new breed of Dissident.

The Wall Street Journal profiles a full-time protestor from Eastern Jiangsu (where I live).

Last to know.

One of the girls who works at  our school got married yesterday.  It was only by happenstance that I learned of this.  I went to the lunchroom to eat my lunch and heard the word baijoe mentioned.  I made a comment about it to a girl named Ida who told me she drank only a little yesterday at a party.  I asked what party? and she told me Nancy's wedding party.  Knowing several Nancy's, I had to ask which one.  I then had to confirm that it was the one I thought Ida said because I couldn't believe it.  Anyway, at this party, most of the Chinese staff had been invited.  One foreigner went.  My reaction was surprise mixed with a feeling of "why wasn't I told!".  Talking to the other foreigners, I learned that I was the last to know.  Several of the other foreigners also happened to learn by happenstance I found out. 
I shouldn't complain about this sort of thing happening in China because it has happened several times before.  But still, you feel like a person apart when they do.  Laowei are the last to know.
It reminds me of the time that my niece was born prematurely.  I learned of it a week afterwards again by happenstance.  Being told in a casual by-the-way manner, when I phoned my sister, by the father of the birth, I found it hard to say congratulations.  I felt very insulted like I had been dealt a rebuke.  It may well be that they were busy and things slipped their mind.  Still, the sourness of the memory lingers with me.  What happened brought that memory back.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can China ever be a modern country?

John Derbyshire asks this questions as he reviews a book about doing business in China.

Wuxi Tony Update #342: Dragon Boat Festival

You can watch it here:

Wuxi Tony Update #342:  Dragon Boat Festival

Wuxi Tony Update #342: Dragon Boat Festival

"Wuxi Andis tells you what he did on Dragon Boat Festival Day 2009."

Wuxi Tony Update #341: Starring the Great Wall of America, and the Cultural Revolution Redux Singers.

You can watch it here:

How I spent the Dragon Boat Festival Holiday

For me, DBF meant Walkies with Tony.  This morning we went to the Hui Shan City IT park that is under construction near the White House and Olympic Village apartments.  There were workers hard at it even on what is supposed to be a National Holiday.  In the afternoon, the K Boys (A and T) went for another walk.  Along the way, A had an idea to take one of the local buses as far as it would go and walk back home.  We would take the bus in the opposite direction from downtown Wuxi.  The first bus to come to the stop was the #610.  We took that and it took us further than I had expected.  We went to the next town called Qianzhou.  The place must be happening, it has a KFC.  We went to the KFC where Tony had fun at the playground.  Earlier, he forced me into paying coin so he could ride a hobby horse.  Then, we went back to home.  Not familiar with the area, I had no idea where to go other than the KFC.
In China, things are definitely planned top down.  Projects are impressive in scale but when you look close up, everything is shoddy.  A park we went to this morning was full of paths and playground equipment.  But it seemed like little maintenance had been done since the park had been built.  Tile was missing.  Some of the playground equipment had been busted and so fallen into disrepair.  An artificial pond had a promenade deck built beside it which had many planks already pulled out leaping gaps and nails sticking out.  The park was also strewn with garbage and the pond was filled with weed.  Surprisingly, some young boys were swimming in the scum-filled pond.
On the bus to Qianzhou, three girls were taking photos of Tony were their mobile phone cameras.  Tony can wow them, for whatever reason, but he dislikes the attention.  To get to Qianzhou from Yangqiao, the bus crosses a canal, a large rice paddy, and a freeway, and also passes a large plant with a tall smokestack. 
In Qianzhou, a girl with very good English came to talk to me.  She of course asked me about Tony.  I learned that she was Rita, a tutor from Web English downtown.  She has a longer commute to work than I do. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lunch and Supper with the Great Wall of America.

I spent the afternoon with Steve Wall from Florida, USA.  We went to a Hot Put Buffet restaurant on European Street in Wuxi.  I then gave him a quick tour of a park near Yanqiao.  We then went to the Cultural Revolution Redux restaurant about which I have blogger plenty before.  The Great Wall of America enjoyed the performance at the CRR restaurant.  You will be able to see photos on my other blog.  Steve will also have a starring role in Wuxi Tony Update #341.

Tony was mobbed by a table of girls at the CRR.  The hottest girl at the table was chasing him.  He wasn't at all interested.  He will feel like such a fool later in life when he is told about this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AKICistan goes random

If it is Tuesday, it means you are in Akicistan or AKICistan which today goes random:
  • The third floor at the Nanchang Book Market reopened.  So I was able to buy three more old movies on DVD for just 10 rmb.  I bought Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland, Naked City, and Paths of Glory directed by John Ford.
  • I just finished watching Meet Me in St. Louis.  It is still a revelation to me that old movies are just so freaking great.  The music and the MGM color was something to behold.  They can't make movies like that anymore.  And even if they wanted to, they couldn't.  The wife found it interesting because Judy Garland was not too far removed then from having starred in the Wizard of Oz.  So much about this movie blew my mind but what really surprised  me was the scene where a date cancels on Judy Garland because he can't get his tuxedo from the tailor's.  To wear the suit and tie that he had simply would not have done.  And to think now that wearing a suit and tie is dressing up.
  • I am a mass mur-der-did-ler.  I must have killed twenty mosquitoes with the trusty electric racket tonight.  The wife didn't close the screen on a kitchen window for a few minutes.
  • This afternoon, I went to a 12 floor high middle school to judge a English Speaking Contest.  A local High School teacher and I watched about 100 students make 90 second speeches about dream and reality.  Most of the students spoke quite well.  The biggest problem was nervousness.  Some of the students lost the plot and couldn't finish their speeches, and walked away.  Three or four students stood out because their confidence.  Each time the other judge and I saw ones we thought exceptional we looked at each other and nodded.  It was not so much the English and the student's poise that earned high marks from me. 
  • I was quite taken with the fact that I was in a 12 floor school.  I have passed Big Bridge school many times when I lived in the old apartment on Wu Ai Road.  Anytime I have meet students from this school, I have always asked about what it is like to be in a school that was so tall.  It was the first time, I had been in the school.  I kicked myself for not bring my camera.
  • Chinese students come in so many shapes and size.  There were two students whose gender I was unsure.  I felt sorry for the ones who had bad acne problems.  Thank God, I am a teenager no longer.  I rue thinking of what Tony will be like when he gets that age.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Animal Stories.

I did a conversation salon class about Endangered Animals.  The one student who admitted to having  tried vegetarianism saw no problems with animals being extinct.  "Survival of the fittest!, she said.  But then she also said close the zoos because it violated their rights.  It was nice to have a student with unorthodox opinions for once.
I also asked the students for some animal stories.  I got two which I can pass on to you rare readers (rarer because this blog is blocked in China).  Both stories took place in the countryside.  In the first story, the student told us that the government was ordering the dogs in one village to all be killed because some disease was being spread by dogs.  The student's father was angry about this and didn't want their dog to be killed by the government.  So the father killed the dog himself and ate it.  Other villagers apparently did the same thing.  Now, I am not sure if the distrust of the government was because the villagers thought the dog-killing campaign was a ruse to steal food or if there was another reason.  But it was a prize story worth relating to you.  In the second story, a student recounted how his dog was the only one in the village to have a license.  The government, one day, ordered the dogs without licenses to be killed.  Later the licensed dog gave birth to puppies which were given away to all of the village.  And so, the student boasted, every dog in the village from then on could be said to have been related to their dog that had been licensed.
Blog Entry posted via Gmail.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

To Tweet or to Blog? That is the question.

One thing I like about tweeting on twitter is that I can make short thoughts and not feel the urge to lengthen them in order to sound profound.  However, your thoughts are quickly become buried among other tweets if there is a lot of traffic.  With a blog, there is a chance that someone may notice what you said ten or fifteen minutes after you thunk it.  But with twitter, you could hit a jackpot and many people just happen to notice.

Wuxi Tony Update 340

Wuxi Tony Update #340: Wuxi Tony and Wuxi Andis together on video from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

The wife holds the camera for this episode of the Wuxi Tony Update series, the greatest Internet Baby Update Series ever. Watch Tony repeatedly attack his father.

Wuxi, China in a hurry to create jobs.

This blogger seems to be impressed by what Wuxi is doing.  He classifies Wuxi as a second-tier Chinese city.  I bet he is an Obama voter.

I have discovered a great blog.

Via Seablogger, I have discovered another great blog.  This blog brutally and deservedly savages President Oprah.  I was initially horrified to see that the blog is on a Blogspot site which would have meant that I would have to go through a proxy to read it.  But after exchanging a few emails with the author of the blog, I have learned that he is moving to a new site (for which I have provided the url). 
A colleague is wearing an Obama t-shirt bearing the image of that dopey Hope poster.  I haven't said anything and I am counting on the fact that China will block Blogspot till past the crucial anniversary dates.
Tony can understand more and more instructions.  Having children is fun.  I think about this as I read this forum discussion in Wuxilife, the local Expat website.  One commentator said that there was nothing to do in Wuxi.  Having Tony, I see how much my life has changed and how those concerns expressed were so far away from me.  Now for me, there is no time to worry about being entertained.  The onus on being active falls on oneself.
Meanwhile, I post to my blog via Gmail.  I should rename the blog form AKIC to Blog Free China (BFC).

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update 339.

Using proxies to access is not easy.  Getting to the edit page for my blog, I couldn't access the html editor so, I can't embed the latest Wuxi Tony Update.  Here is the link for it.  I am able to make entries to my blog via my gmail account - thank God.  If you want to see my latest photos and latest videos embedded, you  can visit here.

Wuxi Tony Update 338

I am having trouble finding a proxy site.  So here is the link to the latest Wuxi Tony Update.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chinese History.

2009 is a year of interesting anniversaries in China.

Sign seen in the Nanjing, China Ikea.

Like some other blogger, I have read, said, I am sick of politics and Obama.  To me, he has been horror show awful in every way imaginable.  I wish he would cease and desist the stupid course he is on, but it won't happen.  It is going to get worse before it gets better. And it is pointless for me to whine about it.  I will have to find something else to concern myself with in the terrible interim.  I think I will pray and grab some faith to get me and the rest of the K brood through.
Here is a sign I saw at the Nanjing Ikea.
It has been 6 years since we married.
We enjoy the honeymoon stage and
no plan to have kids for a little while.
Due to work arrangement, we moved
in this city and bought this apartment.
Although it is a small place, we devote
so much in it, and it totally loving this
warm and comfortable home everyday.
The first thing I hope you notice is the bad English.  (I hope a few literate people read this blog)  To see such English on signs in China is nothing unusual.  But what stuns me about this particular sign is that it is in Ikea.  Who allowed this sign to be posted?  Are the Swedes letting the local Chinese management put up the signs without checking the English grammar?  Or are the Swedes as clumsy at English grammar as many Chinese?
The second thing I notice about the sign is that this particular couple has been married six years, are still in the Honeymoon stage, and aren't planning to have kids just yet.  Am I a fuddey-duddey-stick-in-the-mud Conservative for asking "You're go to have a baby after nine frigging years(I am assuming) of marriage?"  I mean is it customary to wait so long before having children?  When they talk about having kids, I wonder if this couple is Swedish or Chinese.  Talking to my recently married Chinese students, I ask them if they have had their child yet.  Most couples in China have their child right away.  I can't say if I met anyone who had the baby so late into their marriage.  Anyone who hasn't had the child after six years, has probably decided to never have children.  I would have to assume that this couple is Swedish or some big city urban Chinese couple.  Either way, the sign seems a perfect mixture of Social-Democratic Demographic Suicide meeting Communist Totalitarian Demographic planning.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Never So Few.

One of my colleagues at work was giving away some of his DVDs.  I took a DVD he had of a movie Never So Few which had images of Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen on it.  Having never heard of the film, I wondered why.  The first thing that struck about watching it was that the DVD played up the part Steve McQueen played in the movie.  Though he had an important role in the film, McQueen was not originally billed as a co-star but part of a supporting cast that included Peter Lawford and Charles Bronson.  Sinatra originally shared billing with Gina Lollobrigida.  The film now is a curiosity piece more than anything.  While the film isn't completely awful, it certainly isn't great.  The language of the script was jarring.  Sinatra sports a goatee or piece of hair on his chin at the start of the movie, but thankfully removes it for the rest of the movie.  The film is set in the Second World War but the combat scenes look too much like combat scenes filmed in a studio where the stars are made-up between every shot.  For a war film to be realistic, the actors playing soldiers have to look like they are weighted down, not only by equipment but by exhaustion and dirt.  However, Gina is awesome and the fact that the film is shot in classic late-fifties, early sixties colour makes the film worth watching.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sometimes nice things happen because I write this blog.  Usually, I am shunned because people worry I will say something like "A got drunk", "A likes B", "D is a Marxist", "E is a troll",or "A and C had a fight which is nothing unusual.". (Strangely enough, I did actually write something along the line of the last statement in my blog once - it was a throwaway line when early in my blogger days I didn't draw a sharp enough distinction between personal diary and public journal.  I can only look back on that incident and think oops-a-daisy!)  There is a list of people who don't want to be mentioned in this blog.  There is even a video, where I am shirtless, that has angered some locals to no end.  I even worry about snipers after saying good things about spanking children and bad things about proponents of the Wild Card in Major League Baseball.  Some people in Wuxi whose name sounds like mine wish I never existed because they are asked if they are AKIC.  Other locals are mad when the celebrity they get by being written about in this blog gets them unwanted attention. 
Be that as it may, the postives of writing a blog far outweigh the negatives.  Today, for instance, an avid reader of my blog, paying a visit to Wuxi, called me up and we went for lunch.  It was a pleasure to meet Steve who worries about President Oprah as much as I do.

Back to School.

I should say back to work.  The vacation is over today.   I wonder what fresh horrors await we when I check in for my ten a.m. shift.
I don't feel well-rested after my time-off.  But with Tony, being well-rested is a thing of a past.  But, I am learning to appreciate the quiet time.
Tony still can't talk.  But he is communicating in other ways.  He knows to point at things.  He will grab me by the hand and take me to where he needs me to do something,
It is cloudy and wet outside.  So I will be taking the bus to work today.  Then, I will be taking the bus and motorcycle cab back in the evening.
I see some chatter on the net about the Great Firewall of China blocking blogspot.

Embedded Video Of the K Family in Nanjing.

Wuxi Tony Update #337: The Streets of Nanjing. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Ride with Tony and family on the streets of Nanjing.

Wuxi Tony Update #336: Are you scared Tony? from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Tony and Jenny go on a ride at the Nanjing, China zoo.

Wuxi Tony Update #335: Lions and Tigers and Tony! from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

At the Nanjing, China Zoo it was:

Lions and Tigers and Tony! Oh my!

Lions and Tigers and Tony! Oh my!

Wuxi Tony Update #334: Tony sees Pandas! from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Pandas make history by appearing in a Wuxi Tony Update for the first time. Tony sees the Pandas at the Zoo in Nanjing, China.

Wuxi Tony Update #333: Tony at the Nanjing Zoo. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Something tells me this WTU is happening at the Nanjing, China Zoo.

Wuxi Tony Update #332: Deluxe Electric Self-Sorting Mahjong Table from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Tony and the Mah Jong Table that can sort itself.

Wuxi Tony Update #331: Tony at the Nanjing Ikea from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Watch Tony at the play area at the Ikea in Nanjing, China.


I am using a proxy to make this blog entry. Unfortunately, I can't upload photos or use the spell-checker.

Anyway, tomorrow I am back to work. Look to my other site for photo and video from my vacation.

Tony bit me two days ago because he did not get his way. Is this unusual for a 20 month old child to do? I know, I should do my research. But if any rare reader knows, I would appreciate their advice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The latest WTU videos.

WTU's are Wuxi Tony Updates.  It is a video series I am doing about my son Tony and China.  I had be showing it on Youtube.  But since Youtube is blocked, I have tried other video uploading sites.  Lately, I have been putting my videos on Vimeo.  Here are WTU 336 and WTU 337.

What will I do?

What will I do now the I can't access my blogspot site?  I will try to use proxies but they are such a pain in the ass.  I can, for example, access Youtube but I can't upload videos to it. (Thank God, I can use Vimeo!).  I will have to upload photos to my spaces site:
So, rare readers, I hope you will indulge me and visit both my sites.
Tell me if you are receiving me in the world beyond Chicom land!
I should say that I can post to this site via email.  Which is why I like to know if you can receive it.

Blocked in China.

As I feared, I am not able to get to this site in Wuxi either.  I am assuming that the Chinese are blocking blogspot again.  Some sensitive anniversaries are coming.
As it is, I am back from Nanjing.  We arrived home about one hour ago.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Video of Tony and Pandas

The Nanjing Zoo has a Panda Pavilion.  I of course took video and photos.  I would show you the photos but I can't access  I hoping that this is a problem with the computer I am using here in Nanjing.  I worry that Blogspot has been blocked.  This has happened before and will probably happen again.  With the permanent shut on most video-sharing sites lately, a clampdown on Blogspot would not be a surprise. 
Thankfully, I can make entries to this blog via email.
Monday, the wife will go downtown to do some shopping while Tony and I hang out and do the father and son shtick.  Speaking of fathers and sons.  I met an Italian man with a Chinese wife yesterday at the Zoo.  They have a 26 month old son who can drop kick a soccer ball.  We spotted the boy before we found the parents.  Jenny looking at the boy, quickly concluded that he was a mixed-blood baby like Tony.
Sunday evening, we went to this restaurant with photos of Mao and Chou En Lai on the wall.  The food was good although in the morning my stomach experienced a little Boxer's Revenge.

Video of Tony at the Nanjing Zoo.

Watch here.

Nanjing Zoo

The K Family went to the Nanjing Zoo Sunday.  We saw a Panda which was of course asleep.  The Nanjing Zoo is much better than the Wuxi Zoo which goes without saying.  Photos and Video to follow, which should also go without saying.

Wuxi Tony Update #332: Deluxe Electric Self-Sorting Mahjong Table

You can watch that Wuxi Tony Update here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Latest Wuxi Tony Update

Here is the link because I can't embed where I am now.

Rain. Nanjing Massacre Museum 2.0. Ikea again.

Rain dampened the second full day of AKIC in AKINistan (also known as Nanjing).  So, Tony's parents didn't take Tony to the Nanjing Zoo as had been originally planned.  Perhaps, the third full day (Sunday).
So the K family spent time around the house of their hosts. Andis read some Platonic dialogues to pass the time as he watched Tony get into stuff.  Mah Jong enthusiasts may be excited to know that the host's house has one of those self-sorting electric Mah Jong tables.  Andis took a video of it for the Wuxi Tony Update Series.
Because of the rain and the fact that it was close, Andis disavowed his vow to not to the Nanjing Massacre Museum 2.0 by going after all.  Here in his own words, in bullet form, is some of what he saw:
  • The first floor showed photos from the Japanese attack on Jiangsu province in 1937.  This Wuxiren was interested to learn that approx 2,000 people were killed when the Japanese captured Wuxi.  A photo at the museum showed Japanese soldiers marching through an opening in the Wuxi city wall.
  • The new museum had some interesting dioramas.
  • It was startling to see a photo of an safe zone in the Nanjing city with Danish and Nazi flags.
  • The second floor of the museum was the Victory 1945 section to commemorate the first Chinese victory over Imperial powers in over a 100 years. The Boxer rebellion was referenced.  Photos showing the Japanese surrender to the Chinese (7 days after the famous ceremony on the USS Missouri) were shown. (Who knew?)
  • Chinese and Japanese reconciliation was emphasized as photos showing Japanese leaders meeting Chicom leaders were displayed (Japanese and Chinese relations were normalized in 1972 - photo showing Mao meeting Japanese PM was displayed).  The museum said the Chinese were magnanimous with defeated Japanese soldiers.
  • In the gift shop, a video taken during the Cultural Revolution was shown.  Chairman Mao was shown sitting and smoking as he watched a huge display of fireworks at Tianamen Square.  There was also images of enthusiastic crowds waving little red books.
In the evening, the K and host families went to Ikea for supper.  Andis ate Swedish Meatballs, Couscous, Salmon, and Mashed Potatoes.  He needed the hearty meal and all its' supplied energy to later wrench Tony away from the toy section.
Tony has learned how to run.  Let him out of sight for one second, and he will start running and before you know it, he is 100 metres away.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dispatch from Akinistan? The Kaulins Family in Nanjing.

I am able to access the Internet in Nanjing.  So, AKICistan is in AKINistan.  Or should I say Akicistan is in Akinistan?
I have a theme for K Family Vacation 2009:  The Terribleness of Tony.  I hate to say it but Tony has been a little shit on this trip, so far.  What has he done? you ask.  Surely, he is the most innocent of the innocent? you continue.  Well, if you ask questions like that, you more ignorant than an ignoramus.  Tony is getter older.  Sure, he can do more things like use a spoon to feed himself.  But he has narcissistic tendencies.  If he doesn't get what he wants, he turns on the tap of tears.  I feel sorry for bystanders who have to listen to his whining.  He tests the patience of his poor mother, who doesn't get enough help from her husband.
But the flip side of his terribleness, has been his moments of laughter.  Unfortunately with children, the price you pay for the good times is the vale of tears that inevitably results when you have to try to move them on to the next sensation.
We arrived in Nanjing Thursday evening.  We went to a restaurant that has a wall with with portraits of Stalin, Mao, Marx, and Lenin.  I took a photo of this which I will publish when I get home.  Tony couldn't sit at the table.  He ran into the parking lot.  He insisted on my holding him while he played with the taps in the restroom.  He protested violently when I put him down.  He suckered one of our hosts into doing the same thing.  He protested the same way when they put him down.
Today (Friday) we went to the Ikea.  I had five hot dogs.  Jenny bought a few things and was contemplating buying more.  She told me that my comment "Tony will break it!" seemed very Chinese in being an indirect way to say "no".  I wouldn't know about that I told, my saying "Tony will break it!" was a statement of fact and a lament that nice as her wanting to buy something was, it wasn't practical at the moment.  How is the Nanjing Ikea doing business wise?  The place was not at all busy.  It is not even busy on the weekend.  I took some photos at Ikea which you will get to see next week.  Suffice to say for now that Ikea should have someone check the English before they post the signs.  I have one example which I will show you next week.
I have finished the novel A Soldier's Duty by Thomas E. Ricks.  A good read but not a great novel by any stretch of the imagination.  The novel came to an end with too many loose ends.  The good guys prevailed but the bigger questions the novel raised were never resolved.
I am now reading, in snatches here and there, whence and whither, the dialogues of Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett.
I am writing this entry on a laptop generously supplied by our hosts.  I was not able to access the blogspot site proper so I have sent this entry to my blog via email.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tony talks to strangers.

There are times when we think Tony is not shy. Yesterday, we were at the Papa John's having pizza (the food was horse,horse,tiger,tiger). A woman in the booth next to us said hello to Tony and so Tony then started talking to her. He laid a monologue on her for a minute. Jenny and I could only laugh as the lady's countenance changed from first interest to bafflement. What is he saying? the lady finally asked Jenny to which Jenny could only shrug her shoulders.

Tony also tried to play peek-a-boo with the lady, and as well as tried to goose her. He may have learned the latter action from watching me late in the evening with Jenny.

You can follow vacation 2009 on Twitter.

The last WTU you may see for a while?

This may be the last Wuxi Tony Update you will see for five days or so. Our train to Nanjing leaves this afternoon. The place I am staying has computer access. But it remains to be seen if I will have time to use it.

Wuxi Tony Update #330: Akicistan Tony from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

This video was taken on a Tuesday which means it was taken in AKICistan or Akicistan (proper naming still indeterminate). Watch Tony relax in the living room by watching Pee Wee's Playhouse. Listen to his father put the video in historical context.

Like Son, Like Father.

So inspired was I by Tony's haircut, that I decided to have my hair done the same way. Jenny took me to the same place where Tony had his head shaved - a salon in a Yangqiao back alley that used an electric clipper. Tony, unfortunately, was scared witless to return the place of his haircut. He screamed like a banshee or like when he goes to a hospital.

The benefits of our having short hair are innumerable. For Jenny it is a bonus because when she gives the Kaulins Boys a sponge bath, she will not have to lather up the shampoo to clean our heads. She can use the soft sponge she applies to our backs. The short haircut will also reduce the chances of getting ticks and fleas.

Earlier in the day, Tony and I went to the countryside near Jia Zhou Yang Fang for a walk.

Tony did a Princess Di and ran away when he realized his photo was taken.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring returns?

I hope Spring has returned. Till yesterday, the weather had been unbearably hot like it was Summer. A system seems to have come to Wuxi that has made for more rational temperatures. I will be able to get Tony for a walk this aft. Or so I hope.

I know who Wanda Sykes is. She played this black woman, on Curb Your Enthusiasm, who was a paragon of Political Correctness always accusing Larry David of being racist after Larry unintentionally offended some other person with P.C. sensibilities. Maybe like Larry David, she was playing herself on the T.V. series.

WTU 330 is being uploaded to Vimeo.

This afternoon, the wife goes to purchase train tickets for our trip to Nanjing. We leave tomorrow. I don't know if I will be able to blog while in the Nanj. But I promise you I will meet you in the Promised Land. Where ever that is.

A vacation dispatch from AKICistan (or Akicistan).

One day into K Family vacation 2009 and no theme for it is yet discernible. One thing that can be said is that it is funny that rain and gray seem to come just as I finished my last class yesterday. But the previous days being hot and steamy, the coolness accompanying the gray was much appreciated.

This will be the first vacation I have ever spent as a father. And it is more than likely that the theme of K Family vacation 2009 will be how mischievous, troublesome, incorrigible, and menacing is one Anthony Arnis Peng Kaulins.

Trying to follow the NHL playoffs can be a pain. It is hard to access the game highlights as it seems to take for ever for the them to buffer. Shame about the Canucks losing out. They join the Maple Leafs as a loser team.

Two days of Vacation 2009 will be spent in AKICistand or Akicistan, the land of good sense and taste. Another five days will be spent in Nanjing. The other two days will be spent in some new land that I haven't invented yet.

I was watching some Seinfeld DVDs this aft. It is hard to believe that the "Not that there is anything wrong with" episode is over ten years old. I watched that episode today and I have to say that the line lost its humorous impact for me. I got a kick out of the line in another episode where George, continually asking if there was Dill in the sandwich, was eventually told by Jerry that it was in fact taragon.

Jenny eventually urged me to play a DVD that Tony would enjoy so, I put in Pee Wee's Playhouse for him. This series was made before the actor playing Pee Wee was caught doing whatever it was that he was caught doing. Whatever it was that he was caught doing caused many people to not want to have anything to do with his work. I always took Pee Wee Herman's work as being clever childish silliness mixed with a bit of adult whimsy. Boycotting Pew Wee was kind of like saying I should sing any Cole Porter songs because he was gay. Who cares?!? Sadly, Pee Wee Herman's work came to halt because of his indiscretion. Anyway, Tony sat and watched Pee Wee's Playhouse attentively. Jenny thought Pee Wee was behaving silly. But she did appreciate the puppetry and animation of the show.

The Bus Drivers in Wuxi are horrible. They possess the same vices as all other drivers here - a lack of consideration for others and an inability or unwillingness to follow the rules. Having a bus full of people, the Bus Drivers drive like they are on an F-1 course. People on a joy ride in Canada hit less bumps and do less swerving than a Wuxi Bus Driver. (*Of course, it doesn't help that Wuxi drivers make turns without bothering to look. It is an act of faith to them that if a dump truck, barrelling down on them as they make a turn, will be able to slow down.)

The latest issue of the China Leadership Monitor is out. It includes articles on Social Order in the wake of the Economic Crisis and Shanghai reclaiming the head of the Dragon.

China's exports drip 23 percent in April. Uggh.

I am making it through the novel A Soldier's Duty by Thomas Ricks. I mentioned before that I found the book at the school library. I am enjoying this novel about the politics and the American Military. But I don't think "Schick" is a good name for a U.S. president, even a fictional one.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vacation 2009 begins!

The K family vacation begins! I haven't found a satisfactory literary theme for it. I first, of course, thought of the Odyssey, but that isn't a family story. The hero of the Odyssey is trying to get home. But I already am. I could very well base it on Jame Joyce's Ulysses which was based on the Odyssey. Ulysses's Odyssey connection was not easy for me to notice when I read the book but experts assured me there was. I could also base it on the Wizard of Oz, seeing how familiar I am with the story.

I may well just have to let the theme develop organically.

The 2009 K family vacation won't be full of hunting safaris and trips to skid row pubs. It will be of a different sort of adventure altogether. Four days will be spent in Wuxi, five days in Nanjing. In Nanjing, I hope to be able to pig out on hot dogs at the Ikea. Other than that, I will be doing fatherly things whatever they may be. It will be a Tony and Andis Odyssey (maybe I should call it the Akicyssey).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #329

Wuxi Tony Update #329: Tony sits on a bar stool at Breakfast time. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

It is Monday morning at the Kaulins household in Wuxi, China. Tony is sitting on the bar stool in the kitchen, looking so darn cute that video must be taken. You will see this and hear Andis put the video in historical context. Andis will also pontificate if only slightly on some matters he has heard discussion about on the Internet.

Tony breaks no DVDs.

Yesterday, I said that Wuxi traffic is a source of material for me to blog about. I should also have mentioned that I was thinking how I seemed to have so little to blog about the past week. But after reading this quote from Chesterton, I realize I should be thankful.

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, "Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe," or "Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet." They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.

A thought has always lingered in the back of my mind that the stuff that happens for the newspapers has nothing to do with my life or most people's lives. This blog about nothing that I write does have the virtue of actually talking about ordinary things. Whether or not my socks are inside-out is a nice problem to have. And nice problems are to be celebrated. Sure, you can float in the clouds, but you do have to wash your feet. And sitting on the couch is a nice way to rest your legs.

Sunday Night and a day to go....

I took the photos below as I was coming home from work this evening, about seven p.m. or so. I used the dusk/dawn feature on my pocket Nikon and I am not at impressed with the results. My camera works best in sunlight or with the flash on Tony. You may be able to see couples dancing, ball room style, at the square near the complex containing Casa K, the official residence of the K family in China.

Kaulins Family Vacation 2009 will begin in less than 24 hours. Yours truly has one more day of work before it is off to the races or rather, off to the slowdown.

The heat that I hate has hit Wuxi. It doesn't seem like we had a spring. Some have said we had a long spring. But I don't remember it ever being comfortable. I must have missed this long spring they talk off. It was chilly in the mornings until all of a suddenly the mornings became hot with the sun shining down on you like a torch.

This evening I would describe as steamy. The first of the year. Taking the bus home, I saw some of the local men had taken off their shirts, draping them over their shoulders. I saw another man rolling his shirt up to reveal his belly. Yet another rolled up the legs of his pants to his knees. These practices would smack of a lack of class in Western countries, but it is acceptable here. I am thinking to take off my pants if it gets hot enough and wear nothing buy my B.V.D's.

I told Jenny about the hit-and-run I saw this morning (see previous entry). She told me that cyclist that fled was a bastard. I was under the impression that this action was though of as a necessary evil.

Students told me a ponzi scheme in Wuxi a few years back that fleeced locals of four billion yuan. It was run by a 50 year old woman promising 20 percent returns.

I can't have cold drink now with out Tony whining to have me give it to him.

The Canucks, I am sad to say, lost a big game to the Black Hawks this morning.

The poet laureates of America and England are 50 year lesbians. Whether they are really poets is another question. It leads me to wonder if Canada has a poet laureate and if so is this person a lesbian also. Right now, it seems we have a man in the role. I can find no mention of his sexual orientation. I suppose the parliament of Canada felt it safe to have a male since it already has had a female poet laureate. (Aren't they supposed to mention if the poet is married or not in the biography. I see no mention of her dividing her time between being a poet and a wife). This female was also a francophone - a double whammy for the Canadian Parliament. So, I suppose Canada will have to wait a while before it has its' own lesbian poet laureate.

John Derbyshire on the Arts/Sciences divide
. That is, in Western Culture there came a point in the early 19th century where it could be said that Literary Intellectuals knew nothing about science and Scientists knew nothing about literature. I know this divide well. I was hoodwinked into going on the Arts side of the divide. In high school, I had done well in math and sciences. But somehow I missed out on the wonder of these fields, thinking it was all so nerdy and that poets and writers did cool things. What a dolt I was! Now in Wuxi, I see the engineers are the ones making the money. The literary types, if there are actually any, have become poor English teachers. Others may be refugees from sub-intellectual flim-flam pseudo-disciplines (Derb says this in the article). Anyway, this arts/sciences divide says Derbyshire is becoming a thing of the past as Science has routed Art. (Stuck in the boondocks, the divide was already stale when I became aware of and straddled it) The developments I have seen in my life time have been in science. In Art, there has been nothing new under the sun. To me an artist is the man I saw in Winnipeg who defended his vulgar behavior during a movie viewing by inisisting that he was "an artist". Furthermore, says Derb, there has been a shift of cultural and scientific hegemony from Europe to Asia. Europeans don't seem interested in having children and want nothing more than to work 30 hours a week and indulge themselves lazily on four day weekends. The Asians are taking up the strenuous intellectual activity....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hit and Run. Panic in the Streets.

I can always count on traffic to give me something to blog about. I saw my first ever hit and run this morning. I have seen plenty of accidents in Wuxi, China. But, this is the first that I saw the before, the collision, and a fleeing on the part of one of the parties involved.

It happened while I was taking the bus to work. The bus was stopped at an intersection. An electric bike carrying an office desk ran through the intersection going in the opposite direction the bus was facing. Meanwhile, another electric bike started to make a left turn in front of the bus. Both cyclists were in the wrong. The bike carrying the desk ran a red light. The bike making the left turn was going the wrong way. The bikes didn't see each other till it was too late. They both made efforts to avoid the collision. The cyclist making the left turn had the worse of the collision. He was knocked down and I clearly remember seeing the side of his head striking the pavement though, not too hard. The cyclist moving the desk wasn't knocked down. However, one of the drawers of the desk fell on the ground. The cyclist, knocked down, quickly got up. But he had to have been hurt and he wasn't wearing an helmet. The cyclist with the desk carried on. He didn't bother to look back. He didn't bother to pick up the drawer. He could be seen slowly riding away from the scene.

I have been told that the hit and run cyclist's behavior is common here and that it is almost the suggested action. The other cyclist would demand money and compensation.

Student speech topic: circumcision.

Last evening, on DVD, I watched Panic in the Streets with Richard Widmark and Jack Palance. A find motion picture with hammy acting but with good editing and a swift-moving story.

Wuxi Tony Update #328

Wuxi Tony Update #328: Tony just has a haircut. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

In this episode of WTU, you can see how beautiful Tony's father's legs are and you can see Tony's new hair style.


This article from Real Clear Politics bemoans the lack of Western movies made these days. It also, in a way, shows why I prefer watching old movies in general. This quote is priceless: I know of a mother in California who would not allow her son to play with any kind of toy weapon, much less a cowboy fighting Indians. I think her son will grow up to be a man incapable of standing up against evil, who will shrink at the approach of the next bully, and undoubtedly vote Democrat. Hopefully, the son rebels. But I agree. Please make more Western movies where the cowboys are dependable, have integrity, have courage, and are straight talkers.

Tony has historically important haircut Saturday night

G.I. Tony? I like the sound of it. I know some of you pacifists wouldn't like it. Whatever! After looking at Wuxi Kindergartens. I have decided to enroll Tony in the Wuxi, China P.L.A. preschool, the school that promises to make your child a born killer by the time he is four years old. This Wuxi, China preschool eschews activities like finger-painting as unmanly. So hence the need for the haircut.

Here is a before photo of the premier Wuxi Expat baby.

Here are several afters. They are more for the benefit of my parents than other rare readers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tire fixed.

I had the tire fixed easily enough, as it turned out. The inner tube was punctured. The stem was not ripped off as I had feared. It cost me 5 rmb. The repairman works at a side street near our school.

Darn neighbors. If it is not the workmen rennovating, it is the singers at the church disrupting my classes.

Mother's Day tomorrow. All the best to Aina, Jenny, and Benita.

Here is my Mom with my father and my kid brother.

Here is my sister with her son Kyle.

Here is Jenny with Tony.

Happy Mother's Day to them all!

Flat Tire

Not much to report from AKIC land or Akicland, this Saturday morning except for the Flat Tire. I discovered the reat tire of my electric bicycle was flat last night as I planned to ride it from work last night. So, I had to take the bus and the motorcycle taxi home.

The high temperature today is supposed to be 33 celsius!

Here is an editorial from Bill Maher. If this represents how the Left "thinks" and the Left is in the ascendant then God help us. Maher's definition of Patriotism seems to be sacrificing for the state. Patriotism as I understand does involve having gratitude. In America, there is this love country borne from being able to escape the compulsory sacrifices imposed by states in other parts of the world. American patriotism is borne of gratitude. However, it is hard to think of the likes of Bill Maher having gratitude for anything. All I see is a sneerer and a scoffer.

It may well be that Maher is on the Left because of good intentions. But his manner, I think, makes me wonder. And his manner does, ironically, make Rush Limbaugh appear wrong on one point. Rush has always said that many people on the Left have good intentions and are well meaning but have bad solutions to the problems of the world. When I look at the likes of Maher, I wonder if the left is well-meaning.

Who is that?

Whose is this fellow? you ask. What is he doing in my blog?

He is a friend of mine from Facebook.

He also happens to be my sister's son. For those of you who live in Ontario, that means he is my nephew. He lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia.

The last thing I can remember about him was his love for BMW cars. He became quite good at the Need for Speed computer game.

Kyle Aaron Reid. It only seems like yesterday that Tony's British Columbian cousin was born.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another 85!

My wife has a shirt with the number 85 also. So, if there is a National Football League team requiring three wide receivers from the same family, send an email to

Friday Morning.

China leading world out of mess? The students I talk to say that business is still down. We will just have to see.

Obama to lose in 2012 or Obama to win in 2012? Already the speculation begins. Four years ago, no one was talking about Obama winning the 2008 election. Which just goes to show that it is too early to tell. Rare readers know what I hope will happen. Right now, I am just pessimistic. No reason behind this feeling. It is just a feeling I have.

Spengler confesses. I just found this writer a month ago. I think he is incredible. I don't understand why I was so late into discovering him.

It is nice to let a class go off on a tangent. Last night, I had a student tell me about his hometown flooding to the second floor. It happened in his childhood. He could remember seeing people using doors as flotation devices and bodies of rats everywhere....

Photos taken yesterday.

Where did Tony go with his sticks? Look at the photos below.

In the first photo, you sees mounds of dirt in front on the infamous Hui Shan White House. Here, another Software Park and the first station of the Wuxi Metro are being constructed.

I panned left from the White house to take this photo. Funny, how one can stumble upon a huge construction site.

The photos below were taken a park north of the Olympic Village Apartment Complex (not yet completed).

Panning left, I was able to take a shot with the dome, of the Hui Shan White House, in the background.


The Family K will have a vacation next week, that is after Monday the 11th and I will go back to work on May 21th. We won't be going to Canada. We can't afford it. I hope to God we can go next year.

We won't be going anywhere spectacular on the vacation. I was hoping to hold out on vacation time till the trip to Canada, but not having had a break in twenty months, I figured I should take one now. We will be going to Nanjing to visit some of Jenny's friends. I hope I can talk Jenny into going to Zhongshan Park.

On Twitter, I have as many followers and following. It means I have some of sort of status. You are welcome to be a follower.

Tonight, the ride home on the Electric Bike was nice. Wuxi had a high of thirty Celsius today so the evenings are pleasant.

Only problem, the mosquitoes are out!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Video on Vimeo.

Wuxi Tony Update #327: Tony and some construction workers. from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Taken on May 6, 2009. Watch Tony's father field questions from some construction workers about Tony. Taken near the site of the first stop of Wuxi's subway line.

A boy and his stick.

Anthony Arnis Peng Kaulins has a stick. He is now set to explore the world. To begin with, he is wandering the environs of the Hui Shan New City area of Wuxi, China.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Day of 85.

There is an 85 bakery near our school. The temperature outside will probably 85 degrees Fahrenheit at some point today. At Casa K, two men wear shirts bearing the number 85.

Is this an astounding coincidence? Is it maybe proof that God exists? Is there a team in the National Football League looking for a father and son wide receiver** team? These are questions that this blog, in the interests of humanity, must deal with. Rare readers are welcome to join in.

Rare readers are probably thinking that the two talented individuals pictured above must have played on some great NFL passing offence teams like the San Diego Chargers in the 1980s or the Kurt Warner lead St. Louis Rams.

From Spengler, Israel is the world's happiest country. I have always found that country (as well as America) an endless source of interest. That a country can be so happy with neighbors that want to destroy it, a history with such tragedy, and all the world seemingly against it, shows how Israelis have a better perspective on life than most of us. There is something to be learned from Israel and it long tradition of learning. Along with America, these two countries are the greatest source of hope for the world. That the struggle to get the world to realize this continues shows what a hopeless place it is. Best to be happy, and not worry so much about hope.

Dom Deluise is dead. The fat guy from the seventies whose love of life brought a smile to one's face passed away just recently. Dom was old school. He was from a time where fat guys weren't expected to bend over and reveal their ass cracks to get laughs. In my mind's eye, I can also remember him being pals with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. R.I.P.

Here is a beefcake shot, for the ladies, of Tony.

**In the National Football League, the greatest sports league in the world outside of the Upper Delingan Coin Tossing Federation, players wearing uniform numbers 80-89 are wide receivers or tight ends.

AKICistan Randomistans

It is Tuesday, which means you are in Akicistan. Akicistan is a wonderful place where people are sensible, men are men, women are women, Sleeman's Honey Lager can be found at the local store, people embark on a course of action and then stick to it, goals are actually scored in association football matches, the major baseball league league doesn't have a wildcard, no one wants government cheques, and people are elected on the basis of their character and not the color of their skin. Obama hates Akicistan and would stand by idly if the Iranians or Russians or Chinese attacked it.

How to pronounce AKICistan? Should I pronounce it A-K-I-C-istan, calling out the four letters, or should I say Akicistan, calling out "kick"? I am leaning toward the latter pronunciation. Pronunciations can evolve, you know. Any opinions rare readers?

Good advice for raising children:

Let them enjoy:

The peace, before the dreadful daylight starts,

Of unkept promises and broken hearts.

This gem of wisdom comes from John Derbyshire's April Diary. Derb was referring to the time we peak in life. A writer who said he had peaked too early at age eleven, in fact peaked normal said Derb. For as the above lines remind us, there is a time when a dreadful reality of life hits us. The world is not an ideal place and never can be. Till then, the world is a wonder and you think it will always be wonderful.

Thinking back on my life, I would have to say that my life peaked at the same time. I was living in Shilo, Manitoba, having just moved there from Quebec. I had a good season playing hockey and it was the first time we could see our Winnipeg relatives on a regular basis. Christmas in Winnipeg with all the relatives was probably the best I ever had. I was in grade seven which made me about 12 years old. Life in Quebec had been grand. We lived in a new subdivision with plenty of places to wander like the stock car track, a creek, and all sorts of woods. I was happy at the time we moved because that was what I had been used to. And plus the kids at school were not likable anymore. We spent a year in Shilo, 1976-77, before moving on to New Brunswick for a second time (We had lived in Oromocto for my kindergarten and grade one years). The second time in New Brunswick was not as good as the first. It was then that my life went to seed. More and more, I saw that people weren't nice, and that I was weak....

I read the Derbyshire piece after coming home from a walk with Tony. We wandered near the Square and Government buildings. At one end of the square, stairs take you to the edge of a canal. Walking there with Tony, I found a six foot long stick. I picked it up and stuck it in the canal water. Tony saw me do this, asked for the stick, and imitated my actions. For ten minutes, he was happy as all can be whacking the canal surface with the stick. He then let go of the stick and it fell in the water and out of his grasp. There was no way I was going to retrieve it. So, I continued walking with Tony looking for another stick to placate the boy who was distraught about losing the other one. When I did, sticks or twigs being hard to find in China I would assume, I took Tony to a fountain pool near the canal. I let Tony have his play this one foot stick continually sticking and splashing it the pool. Unlike the spot where Tony had the first stick, there was no barrier between Tony and the water. So, I had to shadow Tony who was stumbling and running along the edge of the pool. The water was only a foot deep however so in my mind, I knew the worst scenario wouldn't be drowning. Still, I didn't need the aggravation of Tony getting wet. But, stumble in, he did. I did manage to catch him before he was complete submerged in water, and so he only soaked his pants and socks. Still, I had to rush him home immediately. The walk home being about five minutes, I had time to fortify myself mentally about the fact that Jenny would not be impressed. Thankfully, she wasn't as mad as I thought she would be. Only once did she want to strike me.

But this story I thinks amplifies the point that Derbyshire was making in his Diary entry. You got to let your children have their tumbles. You also have to appreciate that what is boring to us is a wonder to a child. I had someone ask me if it was boring to live out in this countryside Wuxi suburb, a long commute from the downtown. I told this person that China has so much to see in it that even the smallest area has too much to see in one trip. I keep finding new things anytime I take Tony for a walk. I should also have told this person that having a child, I have the added advantage of reliving the wonder I had when I was a child. If Tony is excited, then I am excited. When was the last time, I needed a simple stick for the sake of having fun?

The students tell me that the motto of Wuxi is "Wuxi is a good city". The students tell me that the motto sounds just as lame in Chinese. I initially agreed with them, but I should have told them that in English, we have many ways to say good. Maybe, the motto can be translated to "Wuxi is Wonderful." or something considerably more clever. Not that this sloganeering would do any good. New York and Paris are New York and Paris. Their slogan could be "Go to hell!" and people would still want to visit. Paris's slogan probably is "go to hell!". (The joke is not mine. I read it in the comment thread of the Steve Sailer blog entry I mentioned in a previous post about Korea branding.)

May 4 was Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you.

May 5 is a celebration of mayonnaise in Mexcio. It is Cinqo de Mayo day in the swine flu ridden country that no one wants to live in if they can help it. I have never tried Cinqo De mayonnaise. I always used Hellman's when I was in Canada. Here, I learn to do without.

Tony likes to rough house with his father in the manner of professional WWF wrestling. He backhanded Dad a couple times. His father backhanding him back only made Tony laugh.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Photos taken from the windows of AKICistan.

Look out a window at AKICistan, and this is what you see...

The woman, above, works at the Xinjiang Restaurant in our apartment complex.

The security guard, above, stood in that spot for hours yesterday.

Chinese Fertility Rate 1.79?

Brand Korea? Also check the comment thread to this interesting Steve Sailer post.

Is China's fertility rate (basically babies per woman) 1.79? John Derbyshire is not sure. Asking students about this in an English Corner, I was told that the number should be higher. The students said that the Countrysiders have more than two. As for young women not wanting any children, the students said this was a Shanghai/Beijing/Hong Kong phenomenon.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Wuxi Tony Update #326: Boomza! from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Tony attacks Daddy.

Tony: Master of Trouble

Tony, with the mischievous smile, did something.

But what?

The wife thought he did something in his drawers.

The Missing May Day Video.

I haven't received so much angry email since I accused people who like the Baseball Wildcard, of being Fascist-Commie-Hippie-Fat-Ogreish-knuckle-dragging-racist-lawyer-types who like having sex with animals. (I am sorry if I said you remind me of lawyers - you are right to say I went over the line with that comment) But, yes I did make a May Day video with Tony. Here it is:

Wuxi Tony Update #325: May Day 2009 from Andis Kaulins on Vimeo.

Tony is in the People's Republic of China for May Day.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Parrallels between Obama and Joan of Arc?

There may be a rare reader who knows that AKIC likes to download podcasts off the Net and put them on his now old mobile phone. He readily admits to a preference for right-wing talk, but he is willing to give other types of shows a listen. He religiously listens to Radio Derb. He regularly listens to Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt (always downloading interviews with Chris Hitchens, Marc Steyn, James Lileks, and Victor David Hanson), G Gordon Liddy, and PJM Political. He wants to listen to EconTalk podcasts but is having a hard time downloading them in China. He shyly admits to listening to EWTN.

This taste for podcasts is a continuance of his habit of listening to radio. Before the Internet, he would stay up late listening to A.M. stations from America which could only be picked up at night. In New Brunswick, he could listen to the great stations from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. He first, while in Winnipeg, encountered Rush Limbaugh on a Minneapolis station which replayed the great one's show late at night. Moving to British Columbia, he could pick up Washington State stations in the day. Working as a courier, talk radio was his best friend. He even went to meet Rafe Maher of CKNW fame.

He refuses to listen to CBC radio, having never been able to forgive them for their coverage of 9/11. He still rankles at the suggestion heard on that national station that anti-abortion activists stages the attacks.

He has tried to download other types of podcasts but has so far been very disappointed. One entitled "Stuff they didn't teach you in History Class" drove him nuts because of the boorishness of the two female hosts. A guy who will watch Kenneth Clark's Civilisation over and over again can't stand low-class accents accompanied by bad diction and vocabulary. He just tried a Military History podcast and again finds himself driven to the edge of insanity by a host who doesn't have a radio voice.

AKIC listening to one of these Military podcasts heard a comment that inspires the title of this blog entry. The podcast episode recounted the story of Joan of Arc, the girl who saw visions that inspired her to approach the King of France and to ask for, and be granted military command in a war against England. That a 17 year old girl would be given command seems inexplicable. But the King of France had tried everything else and this strong-willed girl seemed a source of hope. It was at this point in the podcast that a parrallel was made with Obama's election. The podcast host readily admitted that Obama lacked the executive experience to be President, but was being elected anyway because he was seen as a source of hope. AKIC had thought that the right's accusing the left of cannonize Obama was a trite overdoing it. But apparently it is not.

I took off my clothes for my wife as she feeding Tony. I then did a dance for her. After a few minutes, she said that no one was watching me. On the ball, I responded that if she wasn't watching me, she wouldn't be saying that she wasn't watching me. Aha!!!

Saturday Night with the Family K.

Tony is putting coins in the catch-tray of our water machine. Yesterday, he poured half a bottle of Gatorade into a pail. The second act was strange because he has developed a liking for the stuff. I have to drink the sports beverage in secret - Tony sees me, and I have a fight with a persistent-won't-take-no-for-answer beggar on my hands.

The School Library has a novel "A Soldier's Duty" by Thomas E. Ricks which I have borrowed. I am thinking of bailing on the Robertson Davies' novel. Four pages of the Ricks' novel and I am hooked, just like the reviewer from National Review whose blurb praises the novel.

More reports from the students I do see about the Chinese economy going down. A potential student told me her import-export business has been bad since December. Another has been working only eight hour days when he used to be working twelve.

Another great blog I have found. Steve Sailer dares to talk about things that others dare not, using common sense all the while. Here is a passage (though he didn't write it) that I found in his blog that stands out to me: The accuracy of person perception tends to improve with age, as we learn, gradually and painfully, which behavioral cues are the most reliable indicators of personality, intelligence, and moral virtues. We learn which situations reveal the most diagnostic information about someone’s true character. We learn how to see through first impressions.....Teenagers are overly influenced by the traits that are easiest to assess (physical attractiveness and status among peers). By contrast, parents have decades more experience in assessing the harder-to-discern traits, such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and intelligence, and in appreciating the longer-term benefits that these traits convey in any human relationship. This ability to judge character was considered a major part of wisdom, and a cardinal virtue, before consumerist capitalism made concepts like character, wisdom, and virtue sound unfashionable. I have noticed that many Expats mock the Chinese for actually listening to and heeding their parents. I assume that it is progress if you don't listen to people who have been around longer than you. From this passage I can also see how foolish I have been in assessing people. But I am learning gradually and painfully. On the latter score, I can only say live-and-learn. On the former, I am out-of-tune with many, but so be it.

Lots and lots of Chinese wear eyeglasses. I will soon be joining them. The signs, little though they are now, are still unmistakable. I am finding myself straining to read some small print. In certain light, text seems blurry. It never had before. On Thursday, I took to asking one student about his glasses. I was asking him simple, but hitherto unconsidered, questions like how long he had been wearing his particular pair of glasses for. I was surprised to learn that he wore the same pair of glasses all the time. He had a back up pair, but told me that alternating his two pairs would be hard on his eyes, because no two pairs of glasses are ever exactly the same.

So, Oprah has been U.S. President for over 100 days. So far, it seems the world has survived. But it will take time before Oprah truly wreaks havoc. His bad and unoriginal ideas have just started to be implemented. And his worst ideas are still to come.

Oprah has never impressed me, has done nothing to change my mind about this, and I can hardly wait till he goes away. Reading the text of one of his speeches, I immediately was struck by how free it was of any actual content. He is a slick politician who benefits from having an ebony veneer and an ability to speechify and seem thoughtful to people who aren't interested much in what people have to say. I can only marvel at how people are so willfully blind about him. I hope for America's sake and the world's, that future presidents will truly be judged by what they say and the content of their character. Now, that America has had a black president, the insane desire for some sort of racial redemption at all costs that elected Obama should hopefully be a one-off in American history. Or will there be a second act to this bad show?