Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canada wins hockey gold!

I didn't see the game, it was at an ungodly hour here, and I am not sure if CCTV5 would have showed it.

My sister tells that they are waving flags on the street of Canada.  That I believe, having seen people do that in Langley, B.C. after Canada won the 2002 Hockey Gold.

I am trying to at least see highlights of the game, but I am unable to access the video links here in China.  Damn the GFW!

Monday for you is Friday for me!

Once again, I will on harp on pointlessly  because I probably don't have that many readers, about the fact that I have Tuesday and Wednesday off. 
Anyway, I do.  So, there.
Were the Olympics worth it for Vancouver and Canada?
The Winter Olympics have been shown on local television here in Wuxi, but not too many are watching, judging by my questioning of the students.  Only two students, out of the fifty plus I asked, said they were watching the Winter Olympics everyday.
I have also had questions about the economic benefits  a community and country gets from holding the games.  Governments like them because they look good.  But then leather jackets also look good, and if you have a family to worry about, you are taking benefits away from them to satisfy your own ego.  So, I see the Olympics as party for the well-heeled and government types, at the expense of the common citizen. 
So, I find it strange that I am linking an article from the Obama-supporting New York Times that reports the Winter Olympics are going to leave Vancouver in debt.  Obama recently tried to get the Summer Olympics for Chicago. 
The stimulus in the States isn't panning out; the Olympic stimulus isn't either for Vancouver.
But the Olympics are putting the spotlight on Curling and Curling music.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


This morning, it was a striking sight for me, as I was walking to work,  to see about twelve or so security guards standing together at a street corner.  I have no idea why they were there.  If there was an incident, the crowd of people around the guards was making hard for passerbys to see what, if anything, was happening.  The guards seemed to be standing around a street food vendor.  Whether  they were making a purchase or wanting the vendor to leave the area, I couldn't tell.

Either way, it was an awful lot of security, and food for thought about the PRC.

Lantern Festival

The Last Day of February... 2010 is the Lantern Festival, which happens on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year.  It would be a good evening to go to where ever there is a display of outdoor lanterns.  Unfortunately, not this evening, as the weather is wet and dank and cool.
Canada -- U.S.A. Gold Medal Hockey Match
I am happy this pairing is taking place.  As a North American, whose grandparents lived in Canada and the U.S., I don't really care who wins the match because I am happy at the fact that no European teams have made it, although a Latvia - North American final would have been the best possible matchup.  If the Americans win, I will have the pleasing prospect of reading about much wailing and gnashing of teeth among Canadian anti-Americans -- a scummy, parasitical bunch as there ever was.  If Canada wins, the world would at least be as it should be on one point.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wuxi Tony Update #543: Tony's Throwing Motion Improves.


In the video I took of Tony and me riding on our scooter, Tony wasn't wearing a helmet. At the back of the mind, I thought this might invite some comment; and I was correct as I immediately got chided from a YouTube viewer of the video for Tony not wearing a helmet.

All I can say is I don't take Tony to high traffic areas.
Get out of my stash!
In the living room of Casa K, I have two piles (or stashes) of DVDs. One pile is for Tony; the other pile is of DVDs I don't want him trashing. I have put the DVDs on a high shelf so he can't get to them.

However, when I arrived home last night, my wife was laughing because Tony had gotten into my stash, and having heard me enter, he was scrambling to put my DVDs back. What he had done was taken a chair and used it to reach the high shelf.

The little bugger!

The third straight day of rain in Wuxi. We have had it all in the last two weeks: twenty degree Celsius days, snow, and now rain.

Winter Olympics Awareness in Wuxi
Among the foreigners, awareness of the Vancouver Olympic Games has been high. Among the Chinese, I always had an "Oh yeah, the Olympics" reaction.

One student thought they were being held in Australia.

But as the students have told me, Wuxi is not a winter place. Interest in the Winter Olympics would be higher in the Northeast of China.

A New Blog

Check it out.

Modern China

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The Hungary and Thirsty Solution

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Fishing in Wuxi.

You would think there were no fish in China with all the fishermen I see.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

AKICistan Quotes and Links for Late February 2010

An ancient proverb says: "Good habits result from resisting temptation."

"If you have only two alternatives, then choose the third."
                      --- Jewish saying

Is being a blogger a sign of full-on Narcissism?  I wonder.

World's most famous Narcissist?  Of course, the big "0".

Matters of Life and Death
Now that I am a father, I find that stories about parents losing their children really pull at my heartstrings.  Here is a review from the City Journal of two recently published memoirs of parents having gone through this ordeal.

Here is a movie starring Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly about the same subject.  You may not be able to get the link outside of China.

The Illusion of Glamour

glamour as a substitute for beauty that moves in a direction away from wisdom. It is a contrived, synthetic kind of beauty that does not go beneath the surface. It does not flow out from a center. Glamour is more glitter than light, more glitz than depth, more glisten than glory.

Spengler's Economic Prediction for China

China won't collapse, but government efforts to stop overheating by raising reserve requirements make clear that the world's second-largest economy can't be the locomotive for world growth.

Check out his other economic predictions here.  Beware, they aren't good.

Tony and Andis on an electric bike: the photo

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Wuxi Tony Update #542: Andis and Tony on an electric bike.

Wuxi Tony Update #541: A minute on a bridge

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Countryside Field

I like a nice countryside field. How about you?

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Back to Work in late February 2010

What fresh horrors await me today as I return to work after my mid-week weekend?  Actually, I wish there were many fresh horrors awaiting me.  Things have been slow at the school lately.  Horrors mean staying busy and staying out of trouble.

If anyone asks me how my mid-week weekend was, I'd say I got to spend quality time with the son, and I would be truthful if I was able to say so.

Most Favored Parent Status
As far as my son Tony goes, that status belongs to his mother, as it should be.  Jenny does all the work -- she runs the Tony show.  I just have the benefits of showing him off to the world.

But my wife lately has been saying that Tony and I have been closer.  She reckons that is because Tony is starting to see the benefits of playing one parent off another.  She is the hard ass when it comes to laying down the law; I seem to yield more readily to his demands.

Yesterday, Tony did something that was touching and perplexing to me.  Walking into the living room, Tony screamed "Daddy!  Daddy!  Daddy!" at me, and then gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.  As I said it was touching -- heck, it brought tears to my eyes.  I reported this to my wife and she said Tony had done this to her as well and that in the particular situation he was pleased with me because I was turning on the DVD player for him and his mother hadn't.

Parks in the Hui Shan area: a pattern develops
Taking Tony for a quality trek around the countryside area near our apartment yesterday, I happened to come upon two parks built on a similar idea.  These parks have buildings beside an artificial lake.  The buildings have a restaurant therein. The idea being to offer those who can afford, a dining atmosphere near a lake

At both parks I went I saw the cooks fishing.  Whether, they were catching fish for the evening's menu or whether the cooks were bored is an open question for me.  I have no idea what the demand among Wuxi's well-heeled is for a dining experience in a park.

Getting into everything...
The past two days, Tony has noticeably raised the level of his curiosity about things, ignoring his parents' admonitions and physical blockings that have tried to get him to stop.

Tony caught looking at the camera.

After the trash heap, Tony and I came to a new park.
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Old Factory

This crane is rusting away on the grounds of an abandoned factory, circa 1950s? 1960s? 1970s?
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This is the ugliness of China that they wouldn't like you to see. Near where they are building all this new infrastructure, that I have been showing you in previous entries, there are poor areas where no one seems to know what to do with their garbage. The buildings behind the garbage pit are residences.
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Bridges Old and New.

All the bridges, in the photos below, are within a couple of miles of the K family apartment. The first photo is of a bridge that will probably be used for the mag-lift train that will link Shanghai and Beijing. The second photo shows an old countryside bridge used by farmers in the area. The third photo shows another countryside bridge wide enough to allow bicycle traffic.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Twenty Three?

The Weather
Jenny tells me that there is supposed to be a high temperature of 23 Celsius today.  Typing this at 930 a.m., I don't see this happening because it is cloudy.  I hope it does get that warm because I would like to take Tony on another scooter ride like on the 23rd.  With the scooter fully charged with electricity, I will be able to take Tony to some more off-the-beaten-path places in the area of Casa K.
Another Foreigner in Hui Shan
I saw a foreigner get off a bus at the stop near Casa K.  My instinctual reaction was to pretend I didn't see the woman who was older looking, possibly Russian or German. 
Why is that my instinctual reaction?  I am naturally shy, but the reluctance to notice was visceral.
Corina gets married
Corina Smith, that teacher we had working at HyLite a few years back, has gotten married.  Those of you who haven't heard and do know her would be interested to know this news, I am sure.
Tony does want to yield his seat
It was a rare treat to be able to get on the #25 bus, which takes us from downtown to Casa K, and find many empty seats.  I took advantage of this rare occurence to let Tony sit beside me.  When the bus filled up with travelers carrying heavy baggage, I tried to put Tony on my lap to give one of these weary types a seat.  But Tony wouldn't have anything to do with this.  He had a fit. 
It was only after I had thought to show him a video of Queen's "We Will Rock You", that is stored on my mobile phone, that he agreed to sit on his mom's lap.


The photos above show the infrastructure work being done near my apartment. In all the photos above, you a see a high bridge which I believe is going to be used for the high speed mag lift train joining Shanghai and Beijing. Now, one is not crazy to wonder at the wisdom of building this rail link. I personally think planes and airports would be wiser.

But then was the Great Wall really necessary?
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Playground Tony

At two and a half, Tony is a playgroud professional.
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Abandoned Things

I took these photos while taking Tony for a scooter ride in the area near our apartment in Northern Wuxi.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tony is 30 today!

Thirty months, that is.
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A Weekend in AKICistan: short but sweet.

Toilets on the train to Lhasa
I had a student tell me about her recent train trip to Tibet.  The trip for her was fifty hours,  and all she had was a seat, no bed or bunk.  By the time the train arrived in Lhasa the toilets were indescribable as no attempt was made to clean them.

Winter Olympic Reaction
One Brit tells me he has tried to watch the Olympics  but all he seems to get on CCTV5 is Chinese Curling.  Much as he likes curling, he would rather watch other countries curl.
Valentine's Day Operator
A student told me that he made extra money on Valentine's day by buying a bunch of roses and selling them individually to couples in Chongan Market.  Buying them a four rmb a piece, he was able to sell them all for ten rmb -- a 150 percent markup. 
China to become Dubai 1,000?
Courtesy Seablogger, I came across this article.  I wonder if I am living in a little mini Dubai here in Hui Shan.  There is one mall near my home with a 90 percent vacancy rate, with another mall scheduled to be opened when the subway is completed.  Furthermore, there are hotels and business parks built and without tenants, as the area seems to be hoping the subway will encourage people to come to an area that currently deemed to be too faraway by most Wuxi residents.
I will be putting in some overtime this weekend making the AKIC weekend short but nice.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photos of some of Tony's things.

Does anyone care about the Winter Olympics? Not really.

An Informal Survery of AKICistan...
indicates massive indifference among the Chinese about the Winter Olympics being held in Vancouver, Canada.  A few know about the Chinese gold medal winners, but that is all.
An AKICistan Weekend
Three days into the Year of the Tiger, and it is Friday already in AKICistan.  Just goes to show you what happens when you come back to work on a Wednesday. 
Some Monday to Friday workers in China found themselves working on Sunday to make up for the holidays they didn't work.  It is not the sort of thing workers in Canada would put up with.
What to do?
Company students:  when they are good, they are very good; but when they don't want to be there....
Doing a business presentation class, I had a student read a newspaper article.  So, I gave her the lowest score possible and said nothing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tony and Van Halen: A Video

I don't know if it was such a good idea to show Tony a Van Halen video.

A Curious Conversation.

I asked a student what he did for his spring festival holiday (CNY).  He told me he had supper at his uncle's home.

Where was that? I asked him.  

He told me his uncle lived in Xuzhou, which is in northern Jiangsu, a bit of a distance from Wuxi.  And so I asked him how long, he spent in Xuzhou with his uncle, thinking it had to have been more than a day.  He responded that he spend one day there, leaving in the morning and then coming back in the evening.  And so I had to ask him how long the trip to his uncle's from his home was.

He told me that it took forty minutes to get to his uncle's place and so I became very confused.  I was thinking that he spent his CNY in Wuxi, and so there was no way that he could get to Xuzhou in forty minutes. 

But it turned out that he neglected to tell me, right at the start of the conversation, that he spent his spring festival in his hometown which is forty minutes from Xuzhou.  Xuzhou is at least four hours from Wuxi.

And so the highlight of his CNY:  going to his uncle's, was what he thought important to tell me.  If he had asked me what I had done in the CNY, I would have told him I spent it  in Wuxi, but that for two days I went to my in-law's home in the countryside.  

Was I supposed to assume that he went to his hometown?

Early Sunday Musings

The history conversation class I do always disappoints.  Few of the students seem fired-up about history.  I gather this comes from the way the subject is taught in Chinese school  -- there is rote memorization of dates and facts required to past a test, among other factors to sap the life of the subject.  And some of the students readily admit to having no interest in history to begin with, like the people who don't like sports.  Many do admit to liking the subject away from school, but younger students don't have the time for it since they have to study more important subjects, and play computer games when they do have free time.
In yesterday's class I did get some interesting answers to some of my questions.  One student told me that the Cultural Revolution was the one event she would have liked to have seen changed if she could have changed just one historical event.  To another question, the students told me they would have loved to have lived in:   the time of Medieval knights, Ancient Greece, the 1940s fighting the Japanese (a kind of Inglorious Bastards fantasy), and the 1930s with Albert Einstein.
Are you watching the Winter Olympics?
So far, none of the students has shown any genuine enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics.  One student said he watched the NBA all-star weekend.  The few students who have watched the Olympics have seen very small snatches of it.
They haven't watched the Winter Olympics, it would seem, because they aren't familiar with winter sports and China isn't winning many medals.
What did the students do during the Spring Festival?
All the students I have talked to so far have told me that they ate, slept lots, and hung out with their relatives.
I hasn't seen lots of fireworks this CNY till Saturday morning.  A lot of pyro was set off, possibly by businesses starting their Tiger years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Toby Young says Latvians are good-looking

Toby Young has generated considerable reaction for his dissing of a poll saying Americans are the most attractive people in the world. Said Young:

"Poll is wrong: Americans in flyover states are Ork-like creatures with low foreheads and torsos pumped full of custard". Now, I despise Anti-Americanism in any form, but Young has earned my sympathies by placing Latvians number two on his personal list behind Israelis.

AKIC blogger is of Latvian heritage. Young's opinions are enough to make me want to convert to Judaism. (Seriously! I get Torah updates every day in my email.)

Are Latvians really that good-looking? Judge for yourself. Above is a photo of a Latvian, you may know.

Along the grand canal in Wuxi, China.

I will no longer try to keep count of the WTU's as I make them. I will, from now on, identify them as WTU's and mention the date. What has happened is that is it difficult for me to upload these videos from behind the GFW. So, I will number them as they are uploaded. So, this WTU was taken a week before the Spring Festival.

Tony makes history. Andis goes back to work.

Guess who can pee standing up?
You probably have figured it out, but if you, are from the province of Ontario, are a Wuxi sexpat, have leftward leanings politically, like to read science fiction, like the wildcard in major league baseball, haven't figured that Obama's urine doesn't taste like wine, and don't like Frank Sinatra, I will tell you.
Tony can pee standing up.  He is almost tall enough to do so, but it is better to have him on a stool.  He does need someone to hold on his pee-pee for now.
No F***ing Way!
Pardon my use of this bad expression, but I have just read that Leonardo Dicaprio is going to play Sinatra in a film.  LD won't sing but even then, this is so bad.
Back to Work
I go back to work.  Oh!  What fresh horrors await me?
I will do an informal poll of the students to see who has been watching the Winter Olympics.  I am curious if any of them have been trying to watch the Curling and Ice Hockey.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Video of Tony in Beixing during the CNY.

A Mountebank Dentist catching "toothworms".

As seen on display at the Wu Culture Centre in Wuxi, China.

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A Witch

As seen on display at the Wu Culture Centre in Wuxi, China.

A Seller of Snakes for Medical Uses.

As seen on display at the Wu Culture Centre in Wuxi, China.

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An Ear Pick Pedlar

As seen on display at the Wu Culture Centre in Wuxi, China.

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A Prostitute

As seen on display at the Wu Culture Centre in Wuxi, China.

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My son Tony on a Thursday afternoon.

Tony sitting at the Wu Culture Centre, a park near the Kaulins family apartment.
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