Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh Boy!

Change in Weather
The weather changed greatly from Saturday to Sunday.  Yesterday, there was a high of thirty degrees; today, have put on heavier fall jackets.

Get Me out of here!
The Halloween Party was a pleasant affair.  The students complimented me many times for my costume.  However, I don't care much for going to bars anymore -- beer is too expensive; music is almost, always awful; and I am getting misanthropic with age.

Tearing up the asphalt
On the bus ride to work this morning, I couldn't help but notice how one lane of traffic had been torn up so that there was the stark sight of large pieces of asphalt waiting to be cleared.  Perhaps it is work being done for the subway.

Wuxiguide.net Hacked!
The owner and operator of  http://www.wuxiguide.net didn't know his site had been hacked by Halloween pranksters till I phoned him about it.  IMP: the victim of a hacker.  I never thought I would see the day.

No Expo English 
Sunday's Expo English has been cancelled because of the weather.

I got cleaning to do
With my wife Jenny and Tony returning to Wuxi, possibly on Tuesday, I got lots of cleaning to do.  I can only put off bringing the vacuum cleaner, the mop, and rags.  And I have to put everything out of the reach of Tony.

Transformer Exhibition
There was an interesting exhibition of Transformer like sculpture between Ba Bai Ban the plaza that once contained Toys R Us.  Someone had put together old car parts to make Monsters, a Music Band, and a train.  I will try to take photos of it this afternoon.

Rubber Neckers
Standing at the Bus Stop near my apartment subjects me to lots of double takes and stares.  I wonder if it is because my fly is open.

Thank You
Gratitude is the secret to happiness.  You have to be very thankful for what you got.  The thing that one should have most gratitude for is criticism.  There are things about ourselves that we are blind to.  Sometimes we are making enormous blunders completely unawares.  And we should be thankful when someone points this out to us.

At the Halloween party, a student pointed out to me that I was neglecting to thank people who had given my some compliments for my costumes.  I immediately became defensive but she had a point.  I then quickly made a point of thanking those who complimented me.

Return

Early in the week!
Depending on the weather and no unseen circumstances occurring, Jenny and Tony could be back in Wuxi as early as Tuesday. 
 
I will have to clean the apartment like a son-of-a-bitch tonight and tomorrow morning.
 
Tony and Halloween
Tony is in Beixing so he didn't participate in any Halloween activities.  It would have been nice to have dressed him up.  A few students, at the school party last night, expressed disappointment that Tony wasn't there.  Doing a thought experiment about what it would be like if I had Tony in North America, I could only speculate on the changes to the festival that have taken place since my trick-or-treating days.  One person in the U.S. has told me that the trend has been for children to be taken to parties, instead of going around the neighbourhood doing the traditional trick-or-treating.  I thought as much.  The fears of soapers, vandals, people putting razor blades in apples, pedophiles, and actually going out in the night has scared people off the traditional Halloween because it isn't safe.
 
As I type this, www.wuxiguide.net appears to have been a victim of hackers.  The bunch that were soaping and egging houses in days of yore are now hacking on Halloween.
 
 

A man about to take a shower

This was my Halloween Costume.
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Four sights

Chairman Mao on a Forklift

Riding the bus this morning, I saw a man, wearing a green cap, green jacket, and green pants, with the pudgy build and facial features of the Chairman, driving a fork lift.


Bamboo

I saw this outside the living room window this morning.




Catholic Church

I took this photo of the Wuxi Catholic Church with my new camera phone. I was doing an Expo English event at a apartment complex across the canal from the church, which is in the European street area.




Two Trucks have a collision

Coming home by my Sleek last evening, my path was blocked by two trucks which had just collided. A long flat bed, making a left turn, had run into a truck, with trailer, that was also making a left turn. The truck and trailer were on the inside.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Party at A-1 Club
I will be celebrating Halloween at the A-1 club in Downtown Wuxi.  My school has a party there fro which I have been roped into playing the foreign M.C. for the evening.  You can find out about my costume tomorrow.
 
Tony Vomits
Here are a few updates about my son Tony who is currently staying with my wife in her hometown:
  • Yesterday, Tony vomited out his entire supper.  He had had about 16 shrimp, and proceeded to vomit it everywhere.  Afterwards, he was fine.  But that is the sort of thing that worries me about his staying in the Chinese countryside.
  • Tony is a celebrity about Beixing.  My wife Jenny tells me "Every one knows him!"
  • It took my wife an hour to feed lunch to Tony yesterday.  So, in her words she "beat him".
My Sleek Update
The brand of my electric bike is Sleek.  As rare readers, who understand my turgid prose, may have figured out, I have had some trouble with my bike the last two days, as it has lost some acceleration power.  Yesterday, I took the batteries out of the bike and recharged them in my office at school.  The batteries being heavy, I was clever enough to use the elevators in the building to bring them to the third floor  -- the batteries must weigh, together, at least fifty pounds.  The recharging made my ride home last night Jim Dandy.  I was able to go 45 km/h all the way back home.  So, it may well be that the problem I had had was caused by the rain.  But before I come to final pronouncements, I may also have a problem with where I usually recharge my Sleek....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Problem with my electric bike.

The ride to school this morning was annoying.  Just as I left the house, it began to rain.   Unlike last night, I immediately put on my rain jacket.  But it then rained for about five minutes.  As soon as I got downtown, I was the only person wearing a rain jacket.  So, what's a guy to do?

More disturbingly, the battery problem I had last night manifested itself again.  The bike's maximum speed all-of-a-sudden changed from 45 to 30 km/h, and I was then slowly creeping my way to school.  I am not sure what the problem is and if it was on account of the rain last night.  I hope it is not a dead battery  -- I should mention that I have two batteries in the bike.  I don't want to shell out the money for a new one.  I hope it is just a short in the system that can be repaired. 

One thing is for sure; one battery doesn't have any juice.  When I arrived at the school, I flipped a switch which I presume is for switching the primary battery source for the bike.  Doing that, the bike had no power.  So I switched it back.

I don't think I will be able to see a repairman till Monday.  I work all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I will have to take the bike home tonight to get it to the repairman whose shop is near our apartment.  The trip could be perilous.  I may be doing some pushing.

A Walk in Wuxi, China #9

In this video, I am on Renmin Road near the Wu Ai Jia Yuan apartments where the K family once resided.

AKIC goes to the Blue Bar

AKIC interviews KoW
I made a rare trip to the Blue Bar Thursday night to interview the KoW.  It was the usual collection of riff-raff and non-entities there.  One guy who had told me that he was very under the thumb of his Chinese girlfriend was there  -- we must be seeing the same woman, because he has always been at the pub every rare time I have gone in the past few months.
 
KoW seemed to be in an ebullient mood.  He said he was happy, in general, with the way his new Wuxi web site is going.  He asked me for some ideas for polls to do on his site.  He wants to borrow my Wuxi China Bengal Dog video and put it on his site.  I told him I would think about it.   AKIC is also sad to report, however, that KoW must have drank too much of the Kool-Aid because he still thinks, against all objective evidence to the contrary, that Obamao is doing a good job as U.S. president.
 
Is the World Series on Chinese T.V.?
I will attempt to find out right now...
 
So far, I can't find it.  I must have been lied to.  Someone told me they were watching game one yesterday morning.  And this someone insisted that he had watched on Chinese T.V.
 
Electric Bike Dilemma
It looks like rain this morning.
 
Should I take my electric bike to work?
 
I also hope that the problem I had with the bike last night was a temporary abberation caused by the rain.  Otherwise, I am not going to be able to take the bike to work  -- 30 km/h just don't cut it.
 

Rain! Gosh Darn!

It hadn't rained for such a long time, I had forgotten the possibility of it until my ride home tonight.  I was making good time with the light traffic and then I felt a spinkle.  I made the decision to not put on the raincoat because the rain seemed light.  But then ten minutes from home, the rain became heavy and my electirc bike shorted out.  Luckily, it didn't completely short out as I was able to do thirty kmh instead of the forty I normally do.  But going at a slower speed forced me to put on the rain coat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AKIC Numbers

Three Mishaps
It seemed more chaotic than usual on my forty minute bike ride to work this morning.  I was continually dodging trucks and oncoming bikes.  I as well saw three mishaps:  a van ran over a parked bicycle: a bicyclist swiped a scooter  -- the scooterist grabbed her hand and cursed in agony; and a car rear-ended a van.

666,666 views
On my Youtube channel, I have had my videos viewed 666,666 times.

人气:10,652

The number above represents something that  I have accomplished on my Youku Channel.  I believe it is the number of times my videos have been watched on the Chinese version of YouTube.  I upload my videos to both video sharing sites.  Viewership  is generally better on YouTube.  But if I get my wife to enter Chinese descriptions, viewership in China goes up.

60
Because of the Great Firewall of China, I have to run two blogs:  AKIC on MSN Spaces for users in China, and AKIC on blogspot for users outside of China.  Together, the two sites draw about sixty visitors a day.

26 months
My son Tony is that old.

Nine Days
I won't be seeing Tony for that long.  Jenny and he return to Wuxi on November 7.



A Walk in Wuxi, China #8

I took this video on Tuesday morning at the Nanchang Temple Market area. Even though, the powers that be are tearing the place done and making it look more slick and commercial, the place still has interesting sights.

Just another AKIC Monday!

Back to Work
After a weekend of watching old movies and experiencing Chinese Dental Surgery, I am back to work.  I wonder what fresh horrors await me today. (I ask what fresh horrors await me now whenever I look at my gmail account.)
 
What old movies did I watch?  If you have been following you know I have watched the African Queen, Scaramouche, and....
 
Kiss Me Kate
Cole Porter meets William Shakespeare.  To me, nothing could be cooler.  Kiss Me Kate is a musical adaptation of  Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with music and lyrics by Cole Porter.  Filmed in 1950s style colour, Kiss Me Kate was the highlight of my weekend.
 
Rio Grande
This is a Western starring John Wayne.  Another way cool movie in my books.
 
They Drive by Night
A movie about truckers starring George Raft and Humphrey Bogart.  A good movie but nothing is stranger than to see a movie with Bogart in a supporting role.  The star of the film George Raft seemed like such a non-entity.  I believe that the Alan Hale in this movie was the Alan Hale who played the Skipper on Gilligan's Island.
 
Jenny and Tony's Return
Jenny tells me that she and Tony will return next Friday -- two days later than I was hoping.
 
Halloween Costume
I should set an example and prepare a costume for Saturday's Halloween party.  But I just don't have the time, money, and inclination.  I have a hard enough time having clothes for real life, let alone finding more specific clothes for a costume idea I would have.
 
Mosquitoes
Still a problem in the apartment, even in late Fall.  I always my my electric racket fly swatter beside to catch the little buggers.  Hearing them fly is a wonderful feeling.

Even Later October 2009 Links and Quotes from AKIC

...according to Spengler.  Here are two key quotes from the very technical article:

Every sort of idiotic explanation is offered by academic economists for the financial crisis. Explaining the crisis has become a major industry. The academics by and large haven't a clue. Grass might as well grow where their classrooms now stand. Wall Street greed and absence of risk management was the usual answer. That's silly. The investors who bought sub prime assets in 2006 weren't any greedier than when they bought prime assets in 2004. The difference is that monstrous demand crushed the returns on prime assets.

The financial crisis may have calmed down, but the sources of the crisis remain unchanged: the industrial world is unable to fund the greatest retirement wave in history at current returns. Everything that seems to offer yield turns almost instantly into a mini-bubble. 

(Economic laws properly considered are like physical laws.  No one can defy the law of gravity.  Investments can't grow without something, somewhere, of physical value, being produced.  And if you expect 9 percent rates of growth, you are asking for the physically impossible.  When you expect too much from the economy, it will strike back at you.)

This article explains why Keynes was wrong and why Obama is the wrong man at the wrong time.  The article ends with two questions:

First, if the government rigs reality by messing with the value of money, how can we expect any other part of the economy to not be distorted and dishonest?

Second, if we abandon simple, comprehensible rules and rely on constant tinkering by wise leaders, what happens when we instead get leaders who, having done no work but rabble-rousing among Chicago's poor, have not the least clue about running an economy?


Quote from W.S. Maugham's "On a Chinese Screen"

 " ...they look upon him with the suspicion and awe with which human beings always regard those who do not share their tastes."  

This little sentence  made me go "aha!".  Why?  I thought it described my situation.  Although, I now I notice that word "awe" and realize that it doesn't wholly apply to me.  "Suspicion" however most certainly does, though I have no idea what I am suspected of.  

I wonder why I care about this.  Reason tells me that it is of no importance whatsoever.  But the sinking feeling in the stomach can't be  rationalized away.
 
Is China's Economy out of the woods?
Can recent reports of China having 8.9 percent growth in the third quarter be believed?  This article and this article suggest maybe not.  One of the articles suggests that China is growing an unsustainable bubble caused by overbuilding.
 
I see this overbuilding in my part of Wuxi.  I have seen buildings being built before what has currently been built has even been occupied.  To me it seems crazy.  I see workers trimming bushes and yet nothing being done about the garbage filled ditches besides which the poorer people live.  Locals tell me that many cannot afford to move into all the new apartments that are being built.
 
Bush-Haters would probably make jokes about W making speeches in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Be that as it may,  Saskatchewanians were shocked to see what the real W. was like.  In a link above, a reporter sees that the real George Bush is a very decent and engaging fellow  --  miles away from the caricature painted of him by the Left.
 
Though I want to become a Catholic, I do like going to Jewish religious sites like the Jewish World Review.  It is a conservative site that doesn't care much for Obamao.  The site is full of political opinion and self-help advice from Rabbis like the article linked in the headline.  Here is a prize quote from the article:
 
Some people become confused about knowing themselves. Their confusion goes something like this: "I don't know who I am, or what I want. Who is the real me? I have an identity crisis." Often, the problem is the question itself. Human beings are the sum total of all their thoughts, words, and actions. Since this includes a multitude of categories and myriad factors in each category, it is impossible to sum up the true identity of a person in a few sentences.
 
I would add that writing a blog entry very day doesn't seem enough for me to explain what I am to myself. let alone my rare readers.
 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chinese Dentistry and Old Movies

AKIC experiences Chinese Dentistry
I mentioned, just previously, that I went to the dentist on Tuesday.  In this entry, I will provide more details.
 
Accompanied by Connie, who is, a friend of the Kaulins family, and a HyLite student, I went to a public dental hospital near the Chongnan Market.  A foreigner, unless he or she could read Chinese, would never know it was there.  My wife told me that this hospital was near the children's hospital where about a year ago Tony spent a few nights.  I had no idea.  Unlike other Expats, who know of some fancier dental places, I went there on my wife's recommendation because she knows what is cheap.
 
The place certainly wasn't fancy.  It looked like all the other Chinese hospitals I have gone to  --  not clean and sparkling as a foreigner has come to expect in his own country.  The room where I was examined had about ten dental chairs.  In Canada, I had always had my dental work done in a private room.  The dentist who examined me knew some English but he had to talk to Connie when going into greater detail. 
 
I went to the dentist because a tooth, that had lost a filling a month ago, was causing me some discomfort.  Once seeing the tooth, the dentist had me get X-rays.  I remember in Canada, being made to bite on something while my X-rays were done.  Yesterday, I had to hold something, near the bad tooth, with my thumb.  But the photo was quickly printed out using a computer.
 
Seeing the X-ray photo, the Dentist told me that there was in inflammation in the bad tooth.  I would have to make a couple trips to see him before he would put in a filling.  Yesterday, he did some probing and scraping and drilling to get rid of some "black" things.  I did experience some discomfort as the dentist worked on my teeth, but it wasn't as horrible as I had been conditioned to expect.  In fact, it was worse for Connie who was able to see what the dentist was doing.  She shuddered at one instance.  This being able to see dental surgery, is not something she would be able to in Canada.  Being in China as long as I have, I had almost forgotten that Connie's being beside would not have been tolerated in the West.  I also recall now that in Canada, a plastic bag was put in one's mouth as dental surgery was being done to catch saliva and debris -- the saliva then being sucked out with a hose.  In China, you are given glasses of water and a spittoon.  Another thing you have to do in China while the dentist works on your mouth is to have your own thoughts.  I remember being given an interactive quiz game being played on a video monitor mounted above the dental chair the last time I went to a dentist in Canada. (I could have watched a movie if I wanted.)
 
The operation took about an hour.  After which I was given three kinds of tablets to take, an appointment for a second operation next Wednesday, and a bill for 295 rmb.  Not bad.  And I wasn't scolded about not flossing!
 
And I also ran into another foreigner there:  a German fellow taken there by his Chinese handler.
 
That is the name of an old movie which I bought yesterday on DVD at the Nanchang Market book mart third floor.  I have to confess that I didn't know what the movie was about till yesterday when I thought I would give it a try.  In my many previous trips to Nanchang, I had flipped through the film.  I figured it was some obscure thirties foreign film.  It was in fact a full scale Hollywood production in technicolor.  Scaramouche was a sword-fighting romance set in pre-revolutionary France.  The acting was great, as were the settings and costumes.  Stewart Granger gave a wish-I-could-be-like-that performance.  He vaguely reminded me of Mel Gibson.  Alas!  To be able to speak like a Poet!  His rival played by Mel Ferrer reminded me of Brad Pitt.
 
The film, while very enjoyable, doesn't rank as a classic because its' plot was far too contrived.  The movie seemed to be intended to be longer than it finally was because, right near the end, something happened that could only be described as budget saving plot device. Scarmouche, a character in a comic play, is tangential to what the movie is really about.  While Grainger does take on the Scarmouche role, the movie's story is about Andre Moreau.  But Moreau isn't a catchy name for a movie.
 
The Scaramouche I saw yesterday was a remake of a 1923 silent movie -- it can be remade again with Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt playing the principal male roles.  Whatever starlet of the moment could play the romantic interests.  A 2009 Scaramouche would have more violence and copulation to please IMP from www.wuxiguide.net who says he prefers the new movies  -- a cretinous opinion, but to each, his own.  Furthermore, a scene where a Moreau charms a girl who turns out to be his sister, would have them getting it on would earn standing ovations as well from IMPoster.
 
The African Queen
Because it is such a classic, I hadn''t watched the African Queen in a long time.  I had somehow figured I had already seen it.  But again yesterday, like buying Scaramouche, I departed from my normal DVD watching practices, and sat down to watch it.  The first thing that struck me about the film was that it was in colour.  In my mind's eye, I had always imagined Boggie and Kate hugging and kissing in black and white.  So, I guess the last time I watched the picture was on my parent's old b&w television in the late 1970s.  I had also completely forgotten that Bogart's character was supposed to be Canadian. Bogart always play a great North American, because it is really stretching, I feel, to say that someone on Canada talks and acts like him.  But if Boggie has to play someone who lives in the British Empire, Canadian is the logical nationality to make him.
 
Drinking Beer on the streets
Foreigners do strange things too.  About eleven in the morning today, I was walking to the Xinhua Book Store on Renmin Road when I saw a young foreign couple leave the post office.  They were drinking a tall bottle of beer as they walked down the street.  I thought to myself:  "Are we in Las Vegas?".  I don't think such public drinking would be allowed in Canada.  I suppose it is okay in China, but I haven't seen it in such a long time that it just struck me as worthy of mentioning in my blog.

A Walk in Wuxi, China #7

I took this AWIWC on my way to work one Saturday Morning. The big building at the end of the video is Big Bridge School -- the tallest high school I have ever seen in my life.

A Walk in Wuxi, China #6

I just talked to my wife. There will be no Wuxi Tony Updates till November 7 at the earliest.

So, I will be making a lot of AWIWCs.

The exterior of the Cultural Revolution Redux Restaurant


Rare Readers may remember all the photos and videos I have published here of the restaurant above. This photo shows the restaurant at lunch time.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

Primary School

I taught two classes at a primary school, only just now.  I saw things of note:  the security guard had a gun to monitor the body temperatures of all visitors, and the erasers for the chalk board were connected to vacuum cleaners.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 20 Photos: Canal traffic

On October 20, Tony and I went for a scooter ride during which I took some photos. Below, are two photos taken of canal traffic.


Notice, the "albino boat".

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Wuxi Tony Update #451: Tony at a Bus Station

This is the last Wuxi Tony Update you will see till Nobember. So enjoy it and watch it repeatedly.

It was taken in the bus station before Tony and Jenny boarded the bus to Beixing.

The Big Knife and other thoughts

My Tooth
I know it isn't manly to complain about my sore tooth, but this is a blog.  No one said it had to be manly.  A blog should be true, most of the time.  I hope the rare reader has caught onto to my exaggerations.
 
The Big Knife
I watched the DVD for this movie, which I purchased at Nan Chang Market third floor, Sunday night.  It was a block buster movie that mostly took place in a living room.  The actors looked big and their lines were so over written that a committee of writers must been hired to write them.  The film was shot in stark black and white of the era just before all movies were to be made in colour.  The music was jazzy and would suddenly clang loudly as dramatic moments in the plot had occurred. 
 
Since the film was about a movie star, played by Jack Palance, in trouble and being blackmailed by the studio, nothing in the film could have been other than blockbuster  -- the living room was filled of expensive paintings and sculpture, a butler would come into the living room occasionally, every person was dressed to the nines, and all the actors wore the snazziest of suits with the most perfect of coifs.  The studio head, played by Rod Steiger, reminded me of what Marlon Brando could have been if he had chosen to be an actor instead of Marlon Brando.  (I have never had a bead on what Rod Steiger looks like even though he is a famous actor.)  Ida Lupino reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor.
 
So what made an impression on me from this movie is the look of it.  But I think it tried too hard and ended up far too spoofable.  All its cleverness was entirely forgettable.
 
Primary School
This afternoon, I am teaching at a Primary School.  What fresh horrors await me?
 
With Charity Towards None
I just finished re-rereading Florence King's With Charity Towards None:  A Fond Look at Misanthropy for the twentieth time since I have been in China.  I still get something out of it. 
 
I can't say I am a Misanthrope.  They are born, not made, said King.  I might well be the sort of characters Misanthropes despise:  I am a fool and I am too tolerant of others' foolishness.
 
Be that as it may, the book always fills me with a positive glow when I finish with it.  Sure, people are generally rotten but there is no point in being miserable about it  -- you have to try to cultivate a sense of humour about it.
 
I don't think I have a sense of humour -- still, I try.
 

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 20 Photos: New Buildings

On October 20, 2009, I took my son Tony on a long Electric Bike Ride during which I took lots of photos which I will be publishing over the next week.

In this entry, I took some photos of the new building going on in my area.

Below, these pryamid mounds of dirt and grass sit in front of the L Park: a place for life technology if the sign is to be believed.


This O Park building is part of a software park. Wuxi has at least three others that I know of.




Wuxi Tony Update #450: Beddie Bye!

Sunday, late October 2009

What's happening in Beixing
Phoning my wife last night, I learned that Tony went to bed early.  Jenny also, having had to get early for her driving training.  So I didn't hear the sound of Tony'a voice.
 
My Tooth
I wll have to get my tooth looked after on my day off.  Last night, I got throbbing pain when I tried to drink some tea.  All the day, I had been feeling it.  The image of the person's head wrapped in a towel now makes sense to me.
 
Churches
Saturday, I passed Wuxi's two downtown Christian Churches.  I can't help but pass the Protestant Church next to our school everyday.  However, I rarely get close to the Catholic Church off European street.  Doing an Expo English event yesterday, I was across a narrow canal from the second church, entertaining children (I hate other people's children!).
 
So much media, so little time!
While I do wish Tony and Jenny were with me, I was looking forward to the quiet time to watch some DVDs and read some books.  But the problem is I have so much media to consume and so little time to do.  I have choice of ten books, twenty podcast, and countless DVDs and only about two hours last night to consume it.  What did I look at?
 
The Life of Emile Zola
I have never quite understood the Dreyfus affair.  I know it raised great passions in France at the time, but it is hard, in hindsight, for this Canadian to know why.  This Hollywood movie, that I bought cheap at the Nanchang Temple Market, didn't do it.  It showed the basic events but it didn't seem a fully enclosed story.  It only once brought up the issue of anti-semitism which I understand was a cause of the affair's passion.
 
 

 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #449: Walking on a Canal Wall

I was worried that Tony was going to fall into the canal.

The Country Girl: a review

Saturday Morning
I beat the alarm this morning which I had set for six a.m.  I am up and at it this Saturday Morning. 
 
It is sunny early morning in Wuxi.  Since they don't have daylight savings time here, it is light very early and dark by supper time.
 
A review of Country Girl
What a great movie it was!  My choosing to watch it last night justified my decision to eschew most of the current cinema fare, and stick to watch the old classics.  Country Girl, a movie about alcoholism, spousal loyalty, facing responsibility, and a death of a child, really tugged at my heart strings.  And it came to some moral conclusions that are not fashionable these days:  we can't use personal tragedy as an excuse for bad behavior, and we really have to stick with the ones we marry through thick and thin.  And it also had some great music.
 
Bing Crosby played a drunk which is something I never imagined him doing.  It shows what a shallow impression I had of him.  I always knew was a major singing talent.  But even then, there was a bar scene where he sang a gritty, tough, and sensual song in a manner that puts the likes of Mick Jagger to shame.  He showed a range that I, ignoramus I am, didn't know he had.
 
Grace Kelly, who played Crosby's long suffering wife, was superb.  Her famous Grace only showed up late in the movie.  Till then, she played a forlorn looking wife.  I think I read somewhere that she got an Oscar for the performance.
 
The story and the dialogue were adult and sophisticated, without being vulgar.  I couldn't imagine the horrible way that such situations would be treated in a modern movie.
 
I am glad to be a nerd!
 
To bus it or not?
That is the question for me this morning.  If I take the bus, I will have to stand in the morning, and maybe have a seat on the way back.  So there is the chance I can do some reading.
 
Sore Tooth
I have a sore tooth that I will have to endure till payday,  I have been chewing gum and sucking on ice to deaden the ache.  The periods that when the pain disappear are pure bliss.

The Country Girl

It is Friday night and I am at home, by myself, and I am about to watch The Country Girl, starring Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, on DVD.
 
Am I a nerd, or what?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 20 Photos: Old Buildings

Riding with my son Tony on October 20, I came across some interesting old buildings.

Smoke stack?


This two floor countryside house, circa the 1960s(?), is overgrown with vines. I am not sure if I would want to live on the second floor.


The Glass dome looks forlorn as the building which it is in, is unoccupied. Note also the cheap aluminum spire on top.



Wuxi Tony Update #448: Stopping on a bridge contemplating Tang Dynasty Poetry

I try giving my videos unusual titles in hopes of getting views. And in this video, I do try to contemplate the poetry while surveying all the new China has to offer.

For a boy who lived on the Canadian prairies, the view on the bridge in the video is something else.

Late October 2009 Links and Quotes.

In his essay defending Rush Limbaugh against charges of racism, David Warren mentioned the above essay.
This article from the City Journal says small changes do much more to improve public spaces that all-out master plans. In Wuxi, one can't help but notice a lot of master plans in the works. Wuxi has many spaces being torn down and lots of rubble piles. What is replacing it is slick but lacking in Chinese soul.
One of my favorite entries ever from one of my favorite bloggers.


Victor David Hanson, has made a widely linked blog entry about how he has dropped out of popular culture. Like me, he prefers to watch the old classic movies, he has no idea who rides top the pop music world, and he is not watching much sports these days. I can claim to be a drop-out because I have moved away. Hanson is because because he is old school, and to be honest the pop culture faire on offer these days is just awful.

I can't help it but David Warren is so damn wise, I can't help but link his quotes every time I do an AKIC links feature. These two quotes having me saying Amen!:

There was a time when teachers did not necessarily require a high school certificate. Most were taught, even self-taught, on the job, which is an extremely effective way to weed out those not suited to it. The number of teachers tended to swell and shrink with the number of pupils to be "educated," and of course there were no unions.
And hardly any administration, either. Our ancestors couldn't afford such things, and the unavoidable administrative tasks tended to be pieced out among the teachers. A principal was in effect the senior-most teacher, captain of the team hired by a very local school board.
This is what I like about teaching in China. I wouldn't be able to do what I am doing in Canada, I don't have the time and money to get the qualifications. And the good teachers always work out for themselves here.

Warren became a Journalist without the benefit of a Journalism degree. He couldn't do that now. For as he says:

It strikes me, after two-score years in and out of the "profession" (as it is now called), that my entry into it would be inconceivable today. My critics might perhaps celebrate this indubitable indication of "progress," but in my own view it is a great pity.

And here is one more. I wish I had a boss like David Warren had when he was young:

My task, as Mr. Davey quickly explained, was to "try very hard not to fit in."

I am of an obedient nature, and have been trying to follow Mr. Davey's instruction ever since.

GK Chesterton Quote
"Liberty is traditional and conservative; it remembers its legends and its heroes. But tyranny is always young and seemingly innocent, and asks us to forget the past." — G. K. Chesterton. (e.g. Obama and Canada's Pierre Eliot Trudeau).


Andrew Klavan reviews John Derbyshire's book We are Doomed. If you are reading this Mom and Dad, I would love to have that book in my next care package. While I can't always agree with Derb. I agree with enough to want to imitate him in some way. He has the correct conservative temperment that makes a mockery of attempts by some to say Obama is somehow Burkean. No true conservative would use Hope and Change in his campaign slogans.

A Buddhist goes to a hotdog vendor and asks for a dog with everything.

The vendor prepares the hotdog, takes a $50 bill from the Buddhist, hands over the food, and then turns to the next customer.

The Buddhist says "Hey! What about my change?"

The vendor says "True change comes from within."

Obama's strange name makes for a long fun nicknames. I have called Oblam Oh!, O Blah Blah, and Oprah. Read about his new Chinese nickname above

The One-Child Policy
"Early in 1979, I and several other young nurses from my ward were summoned to a mass meeting. All sixty-odd of us were young married women who had not yet been sterilized. Secretary Wang arrived and took up a position in front of the assembly. His round little face, normally the picture of conviviality, was set in an expression of the utmost gravity. 'Today we have a matter of extreme urgency,' he began, 'a toudeng dashi, to discuss. It concerns the population of the motherland. The People's Republic of China has within its borders nearly a billion people, or one-fifth of the world's population. This is a big burden for the people's government. ... Having children is not a question that we can afford to let each family, each household, decide for itself. ... It is a question that should be decided at the national level. China is a socialist country. This means that the interests of the individual must be subordinated to the interests of the state. Where there is conflict between the interests of the state in reducing population and the interests of the individual in having children, it must be resolved in favor of the state.'"
-- Chi An
Source: quoted in A Mother's Ordeal: One Woman's fight Against China's One-child Policy, Steven W. Mosher ( New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1993), p. 212-213.

(*I have had students tell me that Mao's dumbest idea was to encourage women to have as many children as possible.*)


October 20 Photos: People

On October 20, I took Tony for a long electric bike ride in the area near our apartment. I took a lot of photos as I did this. I will be posting them over the next few days.


Tony on the Hui Shan Big Bridge



This little kid was pushing Tony around. Tony is just too much of a gentle soul.


Rice paddy.



Tony and I came upon some marching students.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Return to work headlines

Seven Videos Uploaded
I was able to upload seven videos to Youtube yesterday.  It took nearly seven hours to do so.  It is the first time I have been "caught up" on my video uploadings in the longest time. 

I uploaded the videos to Youku in about fifteen minutes.

Laoshu zuo shenme?
What did this mouse do as soon as the wife and son were away?  He watched a three DVDs, about which you can see below.  He took a bath.  He made himself supper.  He uploaded seven videos to Youtube.

All the King's Men
This movie, based on a Robert Penn Warren novel, was no classic.  It featured no actors I had heard of before, although one looked like a young Henry Fonda, but wasn't.  A common guy turned populist turned demagogue becomes governor of an American state.  The changes seem to take place too fast.  I think it was based loosely on the life of Huey Long.

To Have and Not Have
Or was it titled To Have and Have Not?  This was the classic Bogart-BaCall movie based on a Ernst Hemingway novel.  

Stage Door
This movie starred Ginger Rodgers and Kate Hepburn.  The script featured sparkling dialogue and of course those two actresses delivered their lines impeccably.  It was good to see Rodgers without Astaire.  She was quite the talent although anyone would be outshone by my man Fred, the most aristocratic of actors.

Plans
  • I will do an English Corner tonight on peace.
  • I will go to a primary school next week.
  • I will ride my electric bike home tonight.
  • I will read lots.  Right now, I am still in the midst of the Wind in the Willows. Why is it taking me so long to get throught a kid's book.  I find the prose heavy.  I am re-reading "With Charity toward none: a fond look at Misanthropy" by Florence King.  Adopting the mood of films or books I have read, I imagine myself walking around saying bitter truths and what is on my mine  -- never happens in reality though.
  • Sandwiches for lunch.
  • I will present the next set of O20 photos in a Swedish dialect? 
The Chinese Education System
Doing a class on Education, I had many students tell me that the Chinese education system was terrible.  They said there was: too much homework, inadequetely trained teachers, too much emphasis on tests, corruption, and no outlet for creativity.  But I did point out to them, that a Western parent would admire the fact that the students were being made to work and acquire discipline unlike their Western counterparts.  

I would like Tony to start his education in the Chinese primary school system.




Wuxi Tony Update #447: Stopping on a bridge

I took my son Tony on a long bike ride and had quality time with him before he left for Beixing.

This bridge we stopped on was a gem with an interesting view.

Wuxi Tony Update #446: Beside a rice paddy.

Yesterday, Tony and I went for a bike ride in the countryside suburbs near the apartment. We came across a rice paddy near an expressway. The New China.

Food!

Yesterday, the K family went to some restaurants in the area and had some good eating.

Below, you see photos of goat meat fried with green and red peppers, Xinjiang style, and Chicken Hot Pot.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tony and Jenny in Beixing

I had to get up early this morning to help Jenny and Tony get to the bus station. Jenny is going to Beixing to get her driver's license. She and Tony will be away from Wuxi for two weeks.
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Wuxi Tony Update #445: Tony sits still.

Those are Tony's feet. I am focusing in on them for the benefit of his Canadian grandparents who have yet to see him in person.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some Recent Photos

Above, my son Tony sits still -- something he rarely does these days.


I took the above photo while doing an "Expo English" event for the school. The edge of the apartment looked like it had been the product of a very sharp slicing knife.


A downtown Wuxi park.


My son Tony drinks Coca Cola with a fork.
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Tony and Jenny go back to Beixing

Wednesday Morning
My wife and son will take a bus to Beixing tomorrow.  I am not sure how long J and T will be in B.  I haven't thought to ask yet. (I wonder what that shows about my state of mind)
 
Tuesday Plan
I will spend some quality bonding time with Tony this afternoon during which I will take lots of video and photo.  The v and p will keep me occupied during J and T's absence.
 
Wednesday and after Plan
I plan to be a good boy.  I will endlessly vomit out my thoughts here.  I also plan on discovering new things for humanity to think about, crush existing paradigms, starting new fields of human endeavour, and getting closer to G.

A Walk in Wuxi, China #5

I walk in the downtown of Wuxi not too far from my school. Past a church and some expensive shops, I go.

Wuxi Tony Update #444: Tony at a playground

My son Tony is borderline psychotic, but then aren't all 2 year olds?

This video includes interesting sots of an indoor shopping mall.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #443: Tony along a canal, again.

Quotes and Links

The link above takes you to an awesome site that has 300 poems from the Tang Dynasty with English translation. I have asked the HyLite Study Advisors, and will ask my wife, to read them to me. Only problem is the Chinese is written in the traditional Chinese script (still used in Taiwan). The Chinese you know may have problems reading it.

I have cut and past some of my favorite poems and passages below amongst the other quotes and links.

Alas! What has been lost!


Every so often, some established writer complains about blogging. And I will grant there are lot of valid complaints to made about it. However, blogging has some virtues, and there are enough good blogs out there are worthwhile and of high quality to justify the genre. Of course, there are a lot of bad blogs out there. I am sure that mine can be categorized as part of that great majority of blogs. Be that as it may, my family at least read the blog and occasionally I get a nice compliment from someone which helps me bear the indifference I usually get.

You might as well say books are bad because the great majority are bad and should never have been printed. You can say the same for television and movies. Kenneth Clark said movies are a most ephemeral entertainment and he is of course right. But every once in a while, something worthwhile and memorable can come from these modern forms of art.
David Warren, a Canadian Catholic, comments on the Rush Limbaugh -- NFL fiasco. Warren's weighing down on the affair shows a great injustice has been done. Take Obama's Nobel Prize and this tanking of Rush to prevent him from owning a part of the NFL team, and you have proof positive that the Left and the Obamanites have no laudable goals whatsoever. In fact, they are mostly bigots against a certain type of White American. Racism is alive and well on the Left and is becoming more and more hideous. I am debating if I should ever watch or follow the NFL anymore.
Sholom Aleichem

Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the
rich, a tragedy for the poor."

(for me, life is a comedy where I am the fool, only wise enough to see the tragedy of it.)


It is the plague of the times, and it is almost entirely perpetuated by the Left against Right.


Zhang Jiuling
THOUGHTS III

The hermit in his lone abode
Nurses his thoughts cleansed of care,
Them he projects to the wild goose
For it to his distant Sovereign to bear.
Who will be moved by the sincerity
Of my vain day-and-night prayer?
What comfort is for my loyalty
When fliers and sinkers can compare?


Something a student told me

The engineers of Jiangsu like to boast about many elevated highways and road they have built. (I ride under these things all the time. The underside is dark, dank, and dirty. Riding these highways in Wuxi, the city looks dead, modern skyscrapers without the teeming life of the cites.)

Li Bai
DRINKING ALONE WITH THE MOON

From a pot of wine among the flowers
I drank alone. There was no one with me --
Till, raising my cup, I asked the bright moon
To bring me my shadow and make us three.
Alas, the moon was unable to drink
And my shadow tagged me vacantly;
But still for a while I had these friends
To cheer me through the end of spring....
I sang. The moon encouraged me.
I danced. My shadow tumbled after.
As long as I knew, we were boon companions.
And then I was drunk, and we lost one another.
...Shall goodwill ever be secure?
I watch the long road of the River of Stars.


Wang Wei

And the more the King loved her, the lovelier she looked,
Blinding him away from wisdom.

TO QIWU QIAN BOUND HOME
AFTER FAILING IN AN EXAMINATION

In a happy reign there should be no hermits;
The wise and able should consult together....
So you, a man of the eastern mountains,
Gave up your life of picking herbs
And came all the way to the Gate of Gold --
But you found your devotion unavailing.
...To spend the Day of No Fire on one of the southern rivers,
You have mended your spring clothes here in these northern cities.
I pour you the farewell wine as you set out from the capital --
Soon I shall be left behind here by my bosomfriend.
In your sail-boat of sweet cinnamon-wood
You will float again toward your own thatch door,
Led along by distant trees
To a sunset shining on a far-away town.
...What though your purpose happened to fail,
Doubt not that some of us can hear high music.
(Can this poem provide solace to a high school student today who has failed his high school entrance exam?)

Du Fu
...A thousand years' fame, ten thousand years' fame-
What good, when you are dead and gone.

Han Yu
MOUNTAIN-STONES

Rough were the mountain-stones,
and the path very narrow;
And when I reached the temple, bats were in the dusk.
I climbed to the hall, sat on the steps, and drank the rain- washed air
Among the round gardenia-pods and huge bananaleaves.
On the old wall, said the priest, were Buddhas finely painted,
And he brought a light and showed me, and I called them wonderful
He spread the bed, dusted the mats, and made my supper ready,
And, though the food was coarse, it satisfied my hunger.
At midnight, while I lay there not hearing even an insect,
The mountain moon with her pure light entered my door....
At dawn I left the mountain and, alone, lost my way:
In and out, up and down, while a heavy mist
Made brook and mountain green and purple, brightening everything.
I am passing sometimes pines and oaks, which ten men could not girdle,
I am treading pebbles barefoot in swift-running water --
Its ripples purify my ear, while a soft wind blows my garments....
These are the things which, in themselves, make life happy.
Why should we be hemmed about and hampered with people?
O chosen pupils, far behind me in my own country,
What if I spent my old age here and never went back home?
(I love the concluding lines of this poem.)

government officials grow fixed in their ways
And never will initiate beyond old precedent;

(some things never change.)


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wuxi Tony Update #442: Tony on the Hui Shan Big Bridge

The boat traffic on the canals that criss-cross Wuxi do give this jaded foreigner a feeling, verging on authentic, of what old China was like. So it is a pleasure for me to take Tony to the bridge near our apartment. It is not quite a wonderful setting as the bridge near Xi Hui Park, but it will do.

Headlines for a Sunday in Mid-October

Back and Forth Tony
About 11 pm Saturday night, I was trying to read a book but instead faked falling asleep to get Tony to do likewise.  However, Jenny was in the other bedroom on the computer.  So, Tony was running back and forth between the two rooms, ignoring my entreaties to go to sleep.  Finally, Jenny screamed at me to take Tony away from her.  Luckily for me, I didn't have to get up because Tony finally lay in bed beside and went to sleep.

Tony falling asleep is a dynamic process because he doesn't lie still.  What he does is toss and turn and squirm, standing up several times in the process.  I have to cover myself with the sheets as he does this, because he does like to poke me, slap me, and sit on top of me.

Carnage on the Roads of Wuxi
When I had supper last night, Jenny had the television tuned to the local Wuxi news on which was shown graphic footage of traffic accidents.  I saw the aftermath of a man on an electric scooter having been run over by a truck.  I saw the debris of the scooter  -- including a memorable shot of a scooter's rear container separated from the rest of the bike.  I also saw the relatives of the cyclist in a distraught state.  I saw another accident where a body and blood could be seen on the pavement, although from a distance.  

The news crew will even take cameras to the hospital to interview the accident victims.

654,000
Youtube was boasting that they get a billion views a day on their site.  I get a very small portion of those views.  I can now say, not boast, that I have had my little videos seen 654,000 times.  One day, I may well boast of having had a million.  But as long as I don't edit my videos, and continually exhibit poor cameramanship and bad narration, it will take a long time to get to the milestone.  Still, 500 views a day is nothing to complain about.  If only my blog had so many hits.

Meanwhile, on Youku, the Chinese video sharing site, I have had about 10,000 views.

Regrets
I had have some.  But I don't want to sing the particulars of them.

Country Road (adapted for Wuxi)
Almost heaven Wuxi City
Hui Shan Mountains Tong Zhong River
Life is old there older than the Peach trees
Younger than the canals
Growing like the breeze

Country Road take me home
To the place I belong
Wuxi China Tai Hu Momma
Take me home country road

All my memories gather round her
Farmers lady stranger to blue water
Dark and Dusty painted on the sky
Strong taste of Baijoe
Tear Drops in my eyes

Chorus

I hear her voice in the morning hours she calls me
Internet reminds me of my home far away
Riding a bicycle down the road I get a feeling that I should 
have been home yesterday
Yesterday

Chorus

Saturday Mid-October 2009

So far
So far, I haven't much to say for myself.  So, I am going to have it fake it.

At Work
This headlined entry is being written as I am at work.  Currently, I haven't decided exactly when I will publish this post -- probably, this evening.  This afternoon, I have a public event to do for the school.  I will tell you later, perhaps, how it went.

Took the Bus
I took the bus to work so Jenny can use the electric bike.  It was crowded so I stood.

Reading and Standing
Multi-tasking isn't my forte, so it was unusual for me to be reading a book at the bus stop.  I thought to read on the bus, even while standing, but it seemed too daunting a task.  

Currently, I am reading the Wind in the Willows, A collection of Chinese Humorous Stories, the Holy Bible King James Version, and 300 poems of the Tang Dynasty.

Weather Forecast
A student tells me that the weather will become much colder on Monday.  The sunny warm weather we are having Saturday will come to an end till next year.

Sick Child
A student, I just had in class, tells me his four year old daughter is entering the hospital today.  She is scheduled to be there for five days.  She has a very bad cough.  Apparently, the girl has spent a lot of time in hospital in her short life -- half a year already her father told me.  Hearing that, my heart goes out to him and thank the powers-that-be for Tony's good health.

In Tony's bad books
I seem to be in Tony's bad books these days.  He refuses to have me accompany him to the bathroom.  He relishes joining in Jenny's lambastings of me.

However, he does show me the occasional kindness.  Last night, he brought me my doll.

Your doll? you ask.  Yes.  What happened is that we have bought two dolls for Tony.  The dolls are characters in this strange children's show called In the Night Garden.  Now, Tony really likes one of the dolls.  I took the other doll and was imitating Tony's actions with his favorite doll.  When he goes to sleep with his doll, I go to sleep with mine.

Jenny scolds me saying that Tony is supposed to copying me, not me copying him.  I defend myself because I am trying to create a ruse to get him to go to sleep.  And plus I don't want Tony copying me that much anyway.  He needs to be more grounded.

Anyway, back to last night.  Jenny told Tony to go to the living room to get his doll.  He did this showing his understanding of our words is improving.  But he also brought in my doll and gave it to me, showing he is capable of taking initiative and giving his dad the occasional kindness.

So.  How Was it?
I am back from the thing I have said I was going to do in a headline entry that is previous in this entry.

The School did a Expo English community event in an apartment complex in downtown Wuxi.  I can't bloody remember now the name of the place.  Suffice to say that is located along a canal that runs through downtown.  I believe that Zhongshan Road runs over it.  But it could be European Street.  It is in the general area of where Zhongshan Road changes into European Street.  You would have to be a Wuxi Expat veteran to understand what I am saying.  Not that it is important.

The event was attended, maybe sparsely, maybe not.  I did have this moment of supreme awareness where I was thinking that I had no inhibitions about singing in front of strangers.  Now I have to think of ways to get strangers to overcome their inhibitions.  To do it gracefully?  Or to do it badly with a wicked sense of aplomb?

Harper!
A taxi driver upon hearing that I was from Canada, said "Harper!"  Some guy named Harper is Canada's prime minister.  99.9 percent of Chinese don't know who Canada's leader is.  So needless to say, I was very surprised.

Let Limbaugh own a NFL team!
I may be Canadian but Rush Limbaugh is a hero of mine.  I have been reading accounts of efforts to stop him from buying a share in a NFL team because some ignorant and bigoted people, who probably have never listened to his show, have decided he is some kind of knuckle dragging KKK racist.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, if you look objectively, real racism and prejudice comes from the Left, center or far loony.  In this day and age, bigotry has just taken on another hideous form.