Wednesday, March 31, 2010

No Fooling

Record Month
March 2010 has been my best month ever for visits and page views on both blogs.  Spaces and Blogspot both got over 1k of visits.  AKIC Blogspot broke a record that had been established before the GFW blocked it in May 2009.

So I have to say, thanks Mom and Dad, and to my other rare visitors!

They don't like me much at the B of C
Tuesday saw me in a snappy mood.  Now everyday is a battle, I find, between my good and evil inclinations.  Though, I repeatedly vow to myself that I will never again lose my temper, my guard always weakens.  

Tuesday, I first got annoyed at having someone "cut me off" as I was getting off the bus.  I suddenly swore like an banshee.  The fact that the offender didn't understand me probably caused me to swear so freely, as well as this insane desire I had that the man understood what the f-word meant.

Later, I got a phone call from the Bank of China.  They told me that a money transfer from my parents could not be processed because the name of my account didn't agree with the name on the transfer order.  The name on my bank account was Andis Edmunds -- my first and middle names.  My parents of course sent the money to Andis Kaulins.  The bank told me to tell my parents to change the name to Andis Edmunds.  I snapped, calling them every name in the book, telling them what idiots they were for not being able to read a passport.  The first lady who phoned handed me off to someone else and I told the second lady the same things in the same manner.

Jenny took me to the Bank of China Wednesday, and dealt with the matter, telling me not to say anything.  My appearance made the staff stiffen -- there was the foreigner who swore at them.

Sheepishly, I carried on with my day -- I suppose you could say I was the April's Fool, a day early.

I have found a new way to get home
I take the #85 bus to the Trust Mart near European Street.  There, I catch the #635 which stops about a block from Casa K.  I arrive home about twenty minutes later but I save 13 rmb on the taxi.

Photos taken while wandering.

I was wandering in a suburb of Wuxi when I took these photos.
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Brick Wall

It is being built to surround a construction project.
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The Intersection of Zhongshan Road and Renmin Road on March 31, 2010

Taken from a restaurant in Chongan Market.
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Hu Jiantao announces implementation of multi-party democracy in China

In a move that has surely surprised the world and would bring on a golden age for China, Hu Jiantao announced plans for a gradual adoption of multi-party adoption breaking the Communist Party's monopoly on power.

Naturist Shakespeare Players to do one week run in Wuxi, China.

Shakespeare and Naturism devotees in Wuxi will be delighted to know that the world-famous Naturist Shakespeare Players from West Vancouver, Canada will be performing at the Wuxi's People Theatre for one week starting May 15.  The Wuxi government, hoping to brighten the city's staid, provincial image, have petitioned for and received permission from the central government to stage this historical first for China.
What Shakespeare play will be performed has yet to be determined, though local punters have put their money on Hamlet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wuxi Tony Updates #559 and #445.

What a difference 154 videos makes!

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #9

Watch some signs flap in the wind.

An Old Wuxi Street

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Outdoor Pool

Not an uncommon sight in Wuxi and Jiangsu Province.
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TKIC challenges AKIC.

What was the result? You will have to visit TKIC over the next few days to find out.
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Wuxi Tony Updates # 558 and 158

See what a difference four hundred videos makes:  WTU 558 minus WTU 158 equals wow!

An AKIC Weekend Entry

Tony doesn't seem to like the King of Funk
In one of my blogs, I said that there was a chance that Tony liked James Brown music -- James Brown being the King of Funk or Soul or whatever.   Anyway, I then exposed Tony to a few James Brown videos and all my son could say was "We will Rock You!".  So, he didn't go for it.  Whether that is a good thing or bad thing, can be argued till the cows come home, or the chickens come to roost and then go out again.  But, it is amazing nonetheless.

Just think.  In the old days, in Canada, if one would have wanted their child to see or hear some James Brown songs, you would have to gone by dog sled three hundred miles to the nearest thing resembling an urban metropolis to find a  recording -- and the chances are none would be available, so you would have to order the recording, return three hundred miles to your cold water shack, wait three months, and if the season was right, make another 500 kilometer trip (you missed your chance to vote against Trudeau) through mosquitoes or mud to the urban metropolis (somewhat), and hope the recording that your ordered had come in, and then return home again -- another three hundred mile trip -- pardon my unpatriotic use of miles.

But now, in China, all I have to do is journey the three meters (one yard) from the my living room to my computer, and locate a James Brown Video (thirty seconds), and expose it to my child.  

Remarkable.  And yet, how we so often take this for granted.

Street Dispute
There was this tunny coincidence, or as I like to say: coincidinky.  Rare readers, who may actually read my blog, may recall me having mentioned something about a traffic cop and three men exchanging blows.  When this happened, I was in Summer's car with her and Lisa as we were going to a company class.  Monday noontime, I was again in Summer's car with her and Lisa, this time going to teach a primary school class.  Again, we saw something interesting.  This time, I noticed a man picking himself and his bicycle off the pavement.  I saw him shout at another man on an electric scooter, who obviously must have just collided with him.  The two men parked their bikes, and had it out -- verbally, but didn't exchange blows.

It was with Lisa that I passed a scene where two motorcyclists looked to have been fatally injured in a collision with a flatbed truck.

A Thought
Look at the headline and you must be thinking: "Oh-oh!  What is the reactionary going to say now?"

Not much.  An innocent thought really.  If you spend too much time on search engines, do you get Googlely Eyes?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Chinese Poem translated by Ezra Pound

Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972)

The River-Merchant's Wife: a Letter

           1   While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
              2   I played about the front gate, pulling flowers
              3   You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
              4   You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums
              5   And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
              6   Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

              7   At fourteen I married My Lord you.
              8   I never laughed, being bashful.
              9    Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
             10  Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

            11   At fifteen I stopped scowling,
            12   I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
            13   Forever and forever, and forever.
            14   Why should I climb the look out?

            15   At sixteen you departed,
            16   You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
            17   And you have been gone five months.
            18   The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

            19   You dragged your feet when you went out.
            20   By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
            21   Too deep to clear them away!
            22   The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.

            23   The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
            24   Over the grass in the West garden,
            25   They hurt me.
            26   I grow older,

            27   If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
            28   Please let me know beforehand,
            29   And I will come out to meet you,
            30   As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

By Rihaku.

Wuxi Tony Updates #557 and #157

Watch a recent WTU and a blast from the past.

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #8

This video shows the subway construction going on in Wuxi.

Quotes and Links

Repentance means that the sinner forsake his sins, cast them out of his mind, and resolve in his heart to sin no more.

"Let men decide firmly what they will not do, and they will be free to do vigorously what they ought to do."
[Mengzi Meng-tse] (c.371 - c.288 B.C.) Chinese Confucian philosopher
I hope not.

Leszek Kolakowski
There has never been, and there will never be, an institutional means of making people brothers. Fraternity under compulsion is the most malignant idea devised in modern times; it is a perfect path to totalitarian tyranny. Socialism in this sense is tantamount to a kingdom of lies.

(*Heed this: Obama*)

Sholem Asch
"The best security for old age: respect your children."

Jewish Saying
"Freedom means being able to give to others."

Washington, D.C. and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition: they've not only become completely alienated from the people they're meant to serve, they're bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation. Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way, and think, "Oh, look, they love me—love me!"

(*I like this guy's initials and his way of thinking.*)

More wisdom from this atypical Canadian:

....many things that seem plausible are untrue; and even where arguably true, a plain fact often masks a paradox.

I attended a funeral earlier this week for the mother of an old friend. That friend, and his wife, are by current standards very unusual people. They kept their aging parents at home; they attended personally to their needs, as well as to the needs of adopted children, despite very busy professional lives. They are so old-fashioned that they do not even boast about what they had and have been doing -- out of a love that is non-negotiable.

Somewhere in the course of the social revolution that has been effected since the 1960s, the category of non-negotiable love has been misplaced.

The link directs you to some practical advice -- I do a variation of this.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tony's Mercury Cougar

Read about it here.

Sunday Thoughts

I haven't been getting out much lately...
Someone told me that they hadn't been getting out much lately, citing responsible things he had to do.  Still, he said he was not going out like it was a bad thing, a thing of shame, that somehow a healthy life meant going out as often as possible.  I would think that going out too much is a thing that really one should be ashamed of, and worry about because it is unhealthy.  The life of home, at your place, is your life, your responsibility where the people you need to care for are.  I can't say that I go to the bar to escape drugs, mountebanks, alcoholics, and indifference.

Thankfully, I haven't been going out much lately.
A Wish
How I long to be in a situation so wonderful, I feel no need to brag about it.
Too Busy
A student told me she was too busy to observe Tomb Sweeping Day, a traditional holiday dedicated to cleaning the tomb of one's ancestors.  To me, it seemed that it was worrying about the moment at the expense of a forever thing.  But I know about China's often terrible history so maybe they don't want to celebrate it....
Tomb Sweeping Day is next Monday, April 5.  However, many locals are observing the day this weekend in order to honour both halves of their families.

One of many government buildings

This is one of ten imposing looking government buildings in the area of my apartment. And my area is an obscure suburb of a medium-sized Chinese city.
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Two Wuxi Tony Updates.

These two WTU's were both taken in March:
This is the latest:
This was taken in 2008:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Saturday Random Randoms

The woman says she has never seen an accident
I had a class with this female student, probably in her thirties, and we got on the topic of accidents, traffic accidents to be precise.  I asked her if she had ever seen an accident and she responded that she hadn't which seem plausible enough.  But after asking her if she had passed the aftermath of an accident and then confirming that she understood my meaning, she insisted that she had never passed an accident scene ever -- this didn't seem plausible.  In my time in Wuxi, I have seen taxis collide, I have seen two cars hit cyclists, I have seen a bus hit a man, I have seen three or four bicycle collisions, I saw a hit-and-run, I was in a vehicle where the driver hit a cyclist, I have seen two dead bodies, and I figure I go past at least ten accident scenes a month.  How this woman cannot seen any of these things is a mystery.  Perhaps, she is short-sighted.
Tony gives his father a big hug
Sometimes, I do something for Tony that prompts him to give me a big hug.  Friday night, I put on the Kneebouncers site for him.
Playing Hide and Seek
The Kneebouncers site has twenty games that Tony can play.  Only problem is Tony has to change the game every three minutes, and so he comes looking for me.  Last night, I decided to play hide and seek with him.  He would cry "Daddy!" and run after me -- I would make it a challenge for him.
Long Wait
The author of the Black Swan says that one should never run for a train -- the idea is that going at one's own pace is how you should live your life and increase your chances of experiencing positive Black Swans.  This practice is all well and good, but last night, a bus left thirty seconds before I got to the stop.  I suppose I could have caught it if I had chosen to make a mad dash for it.  But, I didn't and had to wait twenty minutes for the next one -- no positive Black Swans and Jenny asked me why I was late coming home.

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #7

Nothing beats a rainy day in Wuxi, China.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday Photos

Wuxi. I took this from the seventh of the building containing Tony's preschool.

Tony. What's wrong with Tony? Visit TKIC to find out.
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It is awfully nice to have a wife who tells you your faults.  I couldn't live without her.

Rare readers may be familiar with this huge public square that is near the Kaulins Family apartment -- it has been the backdrop for many WTU videos.   Around the public square are these lawned areas.  Thursday morning on my way to work, I saw about fifty or so labourers working on the lawns -- they appeared to be plucking out weeds or something.  Whatever they were doing, they were a lot of them doing it.

Tearing up a little too often?
I was told of this Wuxi lawyer who had built a big new house on a mountain.  The Wuxi government decided that the new apartment had to be torn down to make way for a tunnel that they just decided was going through the mountain instead.  The lawyer was compensating for the property value -- however, he received nothing for the completed decoration work.  The person who was rich wasn't put out by it, but I imagine others would be.

But the story does confirm my suspicions that much of the construction work here is being done arbitrarily, without any regard to whether whatever already exists serves a purpose, or just had been recently built.  For instance, Nanchang Market is undergoing its second renovation since I have been here - as has Zhongshan Road.

A hope?
I hope I can win the arguments when I am right and that I lose the arguments where I am wrong.  Can you wish for this in a world where all is relative, and these is no absolute truth?

Tony sitting on my knee
My Saturday night was spent with Tony sitting on my knee as we watched a story telling animation on the computer.  Those are the moments you live for.  You can 't wait for a good future.  You have to grab the good moments while you can in this life.
China and the USA
I asked the students if they had about the U.S. healthcare reform, and they all told they had.  But they also wanted to talk about Google and the exchange rate.  Google leaving China they told me was not a big deal -- they would continue using Baidu.  They then said that the American concern about the exchange rate was a plot by the Americans.
Getting a ride home from a student, he told me that a dramatic change in the exchange rate would destroy his company.
Subway Workers
Most of the workers on Wuxi's subway construction project are migrant workers, the students told me.  One student then said that most Wuxiren were white-collar workers not diligent enough to do construction work.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to Work

What awaits when I go back to work this morning?
Tutor on the Bus
I was on the bus listening to a MP3 and studying sentences, written in Chinese script, in my Elementary Chinese Reader when all-of-a-sudden, the passenger behind me, asked in Mandarin, if I was studying Chinese.  I was startled by him, and had to make a great effort to take off my earphones, and retrieve  and turn off my MP3 player which was deep in my front jacket pocket.  Being deep in an interior mode or my comfort zone, it took further effort to warm up to the guy.  I had to make myself friendly to him because he deserved it.
Conversing with him, in Mandarin, I learned that he was a repairman of sorts whose hometown was Nanjing.  I believe he asked me if I wanted to go for a drink but I told him I was going to work.
He helped me as I read aloud those sentences.  And then I found another person who was willing to be a tutor on the bus.
My wife got her 40 rmb deposit back on the empty bottle from the former supply of water for our water machine, but it wasn't easy.  She had to call security, and the police to get the supplier to return the money.
Pineapple Beer Run
Wednesday's rain kept the K family indoors.  A break in the rain in the afternoon did give me a chance to scoot into Yanqiao to buy some Pineapple Beer.

Wuxi Tony Update #555

View it here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rain Day

No Preschool for Tony
Today's heavy Wuxi rain meant no preschool for Tony.  I was out early this morning and I didn't envy Jenny having to take Tony to preschool - she would have had to have carried Tony and an umbrella, as well as have had to wait for a bus, all in the rain.  But Jenny phoned the preschool to find out that all of the other parents had decided to not take their kids to school -- Tony would have been by himself, so Jenny didn't bother either.
Something so sensible in that -- not putting yourself through such a depressing bother.
I see that Xincheng Road, which runs form Yanqiao to Downtown Wuxi, has been narrowed by subway construction.  The road which is usually four lanes wide either way has been narrowed to one.  As well, they have erected these big blue metal fences all around the construction area making for many blind spots for the traffic that does go down these roads.
Yesterday, I saw this SUV come to a sudden stop as it was making a left turn in front of my bus.  Seeing that, I thought that was a dumb place to stop, for my bus had to make a difficult veer around the SUV.  But as the bus passed, I saw why the SUV had stopped:  it had hit a pedestrian -- an old lady.  Its' driver was trying to pick the lady up and move her out of his path. 
Wuxi Drivers are notorious for making turns without looking.  So this driver didn't think it was untoward to make a left turn around a blind corner
Street Fight
Three hours before the collision, I had an opportunity to see a street fight.  Three men had a confrontation with a traffic cop.  One man took a swing at the cop who in turn swung back.  The cop's hat fell to the ground.  Another of the three men took a flying Bruce Lee style kick at the cop which caused me to go "holy shit!".  The cop recovered his hat.  The two parties pointed at each other.  The cop danced like Bruce Lee in preparation for another assault, but the men walked away.  Or so it appeared as the car I was in drove by.
I assume the men were annoyed because the cop stopped them from crossing the street.  It was the second time I had seen this sort of fight.  I recall another time where a man on an electric bicycle took about nine or ten roundhouse punches at a traffic cop who had physically stopped him from crossing an intersection where a government motorcade was coming through.
What Tony can say
He can say "xia yu" which is Mandarin for rain.  He can also say "throw the ball".  Wow!
To Drive is a License.
You need a license to drive.  But it seems that once you drive, that state is a license to have no consideration for others. 
That is what I have come to believe living here.
Flaky Lands
I have often said that living in British Columbia is a good preparation for living in China.  Why?  British California is full of flakes.  China has a flaky system for doing things.

Wuxi Tony Update #554: Tony from above.

A paradigm shifting WTU.

For more Tony news and photos, visit

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tuesday Ramblings

Day Off
It is Tuesday, so I am going to ramble.  I have been uploading lots lately to keep up the pretext of daily postings, but ramblings have been few.
I really can't discuss what is really on my mind and occupies my thoughts.  A friend of mine has returned but I can say nothing.
Anyway, Here she goes!
Now, he doesn't want to go!
Jenny tells me that Tony hasn't wanted to go to preschool the past two days, in contradistinction to last week when he couldn't wait to get to there to play.
As well, he is getting lazy and not wanting to get up.
Not that I don't blame him because the last days have the sort when you don't want to get out of bed.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins
It is raining in Wuxi as I type this.  Let me tell you, that if rainy days were like American professional football teams, then Wuxi rainy days would be like the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only undefeated professional football team in history.
It is a sheer wonder to be in Wuxi when it rains.  I pity the fools looking at Hawaiian sunsets.
Expect a video of this at my other blog as soon as I can get it uploaded to Youtube.
Big Shoe Sizes at Ba Bai Ban
Someone has told me that Expats, with big feet like me (I am a 46 or 47 ) can find shoes that fit at Ba Bai Ban.
WuxiLife Magazine
In the latest issue of Wuxilife, there are articles about Mongolia and Tofu.
U.S. Health care
Supporters of Obama's health care reform boost that people with pre-existing conditions won't be denied coverage.  But whenever governments try to stop one problem, they create others -- the unforeseen and unseen consequences.  In this case, people will existing conditions will have to pay either through higher costs or longer waiting times.
Navy Blue was the fashion
The circumstance:  Speakers' Corner.  The topic:  Blue.  The information gleamed: you don't wear blue to funerals: and last summer  it was the fashion of young Wuxi women to wear navy blue.  My reaction:  I thought so; and I never noticed.
The Blind Side
On the recommendation of Roger L. Simon of Pajamas Media, I am in the midst of watching The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock -- the story of a white woman who takes care of an abandoned black boy who also happens to have great Football talent.  The film opens with a replay of Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Thiessman's leg -- anyone who has ever seen replay will always be sickened by it -- Thiessman's leg snapped at a ninety degree angle.  Then, the film showed images of Matt Hasselback, QB of the Seattle Seahawks.  I got to see Hasselback play a few times live when I was able to drive from Abbotsford to Seattle to see Seahawk games.  So, I had a "Hey! I was there for that!" moment.
The movie while nothing really special, does have the virtue of showing that white people can do good things for blacks.  Also, I have just seen a scene where the Bullock's character tells a young thug that she is a member of a prayer group and the NRA.  That scene is worth the price of admission, as they say.  Of course, European and Canadian weenies would scoff, but scoffing is often lack of thought masquerading as righteousness.
The students have asked me about Americans being able to have guns.  Till me, they have never heard an argument for being able to own guns and to defend yourself from bad people and bad government.

Wuxi HyLite Language School looking for English Trainers

The School where I work is looking for teachers.  If you are interested, you can email me ( for details.  Only Native English Speakers and serious teachers (not tourists) need apply.

Tony is 31!

My son turns 31 months Tuesday.
Visit here to see lots of photos and videos of him!!
Tony will celebrate by going to preschool.

What drives one crazy when living in China: neighbours decorating

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Books that most influenced me

This blog entry at the First Things site prompts me to make this list of books that have most influenced my thinking (if you can call it that):
Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
With Charity Towards None: A Fond Look at Misanthropy by Florence King
Anything by Thomas Sowell
The Closing of the American Mind by Alan Bloom
Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton
The Dialogue Phaedo by Plato
Witness by Whitaker Chambers
Everything by Evelyn Waugh
Chronicles of Wasted Time by Malcom Muggeridge
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
The Letters of Seneca
The Holy Bible
The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Civilisation by Kenneth Clark
The Life of Johnson by Boswell
The Black Swan by Nicholas Nassim Taleb
On a Chinese Screen by WS Maugham
A few of these titles, to be honest, not so much changed my mind as convinced me of my being on the right track.  I leave it to you to guess which two titles these are.
This list is by no means complete.

Tony Sipping some cola

Can't get enough of the Tony Boy? Visit here for even more photos and Wuxi Tony Updates.

Here is Wuxi Tony Update #552.
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Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #6

Watching Wuxi traffic is fun.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sunday things in my mind that I have deemed thoughts

Wuxi Tony Update #551
In the second latest WTU, Tony wears a yellow jacket.  You have to see it for it is bloody nice.  I pay homage to my wife for choosing it for Tony.

Dust Storm affects Wuxi?
A very severe Dust Storm hit Beijing.  Meanwhile, yesterday in Wuxi, the skies had a brown dusty tinge to them.  Were these two events related?  I have heard some speculation that they were.

Thrills, Kicks, and Excitement?
I presided over a conversation class about adventure.  The students in the class, all seemed to have lead a pretty staid life.  However, one student did say her father wants to swim across the Yangtze River.  I found myself joking about each student wanting to be alone on an island with a Tiger engaged in a life-or-death, kung-fu, no-weapons struggle, only one leaving the island alive.

Sometimes, you have to go into entertainment mode if the students have nothing to say about the topic.

Reversal of Roles
Rare AKIC readers may know that the command module for AKIC blogging central is a desk/closet/upper-bunk bed combination.  There have been many times where I have played on the computer while Tony was playing on the upper bunk.  Last night, however, Tony was playing on the computer while I was on the upper bunk, reading.

Priorities in life for me and some students

From here, I have cut and paste the following. It is written by a philosopher for his children -- deathbed advice in a way.

The Most Important Person

One of the stupidest songs I ever heard on TV was the theme song of a kids' show of the seventies, "The Electric Company." It said: "The most important person in the whole wide world is – you!" Implied message: be a self-centered little spoiled brat. You're number one, everyone else is number two.

Here is an alternative philosophy:

  1. The most important person is God. This is as necessarily true as 2 + 2 = 4. It is true whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not. So you'd better learn to know it and like it and believe it.

  2. The second most important person in the world is the person you marry. Nobody else comes even close. That's what marriage is. If you don't know that, you're not really married.

  3. Next come your kids.

  4. Then comes yourself. Take care of yourself before taking care of anyone else except your kids, your spouse, and your God. Because if you don't inflate your own oxygen mask first, you won't be able to help others inflate theirs.

  5. Then comes your friends. Never betray a friend.

  6. Then comes everyone else you know, your neighbors.

  7. Then comes the rest of the world.

  8. Then comes things, any and all things: money, the things money can buy – houses, cars, and vacations. Stuff (Remember George Carlin's routine about "stuff.") Always, people before things. Use things and love people, not vice versa.

  9. Finally, abstractions: ideas, causes, organizations, political parties, etc. They are means to the rest as ends. By the way, the Church is not an "organization," it's a family. I never saw "organized religion," only disorganized religion, like Noah's ark.

I am completely "on board" with this list, as the expression goes.
However, there is an oversight which was pointed out to me when I presented the list to my students in a recent Speakers Corner. Many of the students said that their parents were more important than their wives. One student quoted the joke about who you should save if your wife and mother are drowning -- you should save your mother because you could replace your wife. The students, of course, had to ask where parents ranked on this list. Presenting the list from memory, I thought that maybe I had forgotten where parents were on the list, but as you can see parents aren't mentioned. Why should this be? I could only speculate that because this was an advice from a self-effacing father to his children, the father decided to make no mention of himself or attributed whatever role he played in his children's life to God -- not as God.
Many of the student scoffed at the listing of God as number one on the list -- as, I am sure, many rare AKIC readers would scoff. To this, I could only say "whatever!"
Another aspect of the list the students objected to was the ranking of one's spouse ahead of one's children. In practice, I have to admit that I have been acting as if I agree with these students. After all, why isn't there a Wuxi Jenny Update Series? So that list chides me, which is why I like the list because it lay outs to me that my priorities are wrong or misguided -- I do forget about how important Jenny is to me.
Point number nine also "arrests" me. Though I don't show it on the blog much lately, I do spend a lot of mental time thinking about politics. I do sometimes tell myself this political obsession is a fruitless thing to do. What I think and how I would vote don't make any difference to the grand scheme of things. The grand scheme of things is, after all, what it is.
Best to do right by Jenny, Tony, and my family.

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #5

Take another one minute tour of Wuxi with AKIC.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Six Videos Uploaded
The VPN was working mighty fine this morning.  I was able to upload six videos to my YouTube channel: three WTU's and a three. of a new series I am doing: Why Wuxi is an exciting city.  The new series is exclusive to YouTube.  For those of you in China who can't get to YouTube, you can see all the videos of Tony here.

Now being able to easily access YouTube has been a problem and I have wasted many a hour trying to upload videos. I had been trying for four days to upload this latest batch of videos.   However, having to keep my videos to a minute in length is a good thing.  My videos have been much too long.

Of course, the latest videos will always be embedded on this site.   

The weather can't seem to make up its mind.  It has been alternately hot and cold, making morning wardrobe decisions difficult.  Yesterday, I was overdressed.  Today, maybe I should have worn a toque.

Asking a student, who complained of the heat, if she was overdressed, she said she wasn't because the Chinese consider it healthy to wear lots of clothes in early spring.

Old People with Horns
Notice how I didn't use an adjective.

Anyway, my wife was watching television and saw something that disgusted her.  I looked and I saw this old woman with a two inch "horn" sticking out of her forehead.  The news report then cut to images of goats and oxen, before showing the woman again.  Then the program showed other old people with the same problem.  Apparently, there is some sort of skin condition that causes these horns to form on older peoples' heads.

Truly a sickening sight.  The women, who was the subject of the report, was in such distress about her condition.

Wuxi Tony Update #550

You can view the latest WTU here.

Why Wuxi is an exciting city #4

This video was taken on the way to a company class in the WND.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My school looking is looking for an English Trainer

Visit here for more details.

Tony going to preschool

You can see all the Friday Tony photos here.
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Tony is at Preschool -- Running the spectrum of emotions.

We got him out of bed.

He was happy to leave the house.  He gave Jenny a good bye kiss.

At the bus stop, he got cranky.  I don't know why.

Boarding the bus, he got very angry when I wouldn't let him put a coin in the change box -- when I gave him my bus pass, he didn't want to use it.

Getting to our seat, Tony threw his hat and my card on the floor.  He then did a "I am not getting my way" flop which amused all the other passengers.

The rest of the way, he was cranky.

Off the bus, he became very happy and talkative.

At the preschool, he wanted to first take a pee.

After this, he ran excitedly to the play area.  He gave me a cheerful good-bye kiss.

I went to take a pee myself.  Tony then saw me leave and he started crying.

Taking Tony to Preschool

I will take Tony to preschool this morning.....
As soon as he gets out of bed.

Nachang Temple Market

On March 18, 2010
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wuxi's Two Skyscrapers

The upper arrow points to the HuongDo Building. The Lower points to the Moresky360 building.
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HyLite is looking for a new trainer.

My school is looking for a new trainer now.  If you are interested in teaching English in Wuxi, China, you can email me at for application information.  If you want to get an idea of what HyLite is like, you can visit this site.

chuan (1) xie(2) xie (2)! Put on your shoes!

That is one of the Chinese phrases Tony does know.

Last night, I was laying in bed while Tony, was in the other bedroom, playing a game on the computer.  When he has had problems with the game (because he pressed a wrong key), or when he has wanted to change the game (often -- damn his attention span!), he has looked for me. 

Usually, I have sat beside him and studied Chinese while he has played on the computer.  But, last night, I was feeling a little put-off by his constantly interrupting my Chinese study so I decided to make him work to find me and retreated to the bedroom.

Five minutes later, Tony came looking for me.  And when he saw me laying on the bed with my slippers on the floor beside, he grabbed the slippers and told me to "chuan xie xie".  

It was the first time he had ever used a correctly worded imperative on me.

Toy Seller

I was wandering around one of the poor areas of Wuxi where the houses are all at ground level and the laundry is hanging everywhere.  I saw this old man, on a bicycle, slowly peddling through this area, selling some simple toys.  Slowly, weakly, quietly, he demonstrated a toy drum -- a tiny drum attached to a handle -- turning the handle back and forth caused two tiny balls, attached via string to the sides of the drum, to hit the surface and make a noise amusing for little children.
The sight seemed very forlorn.  Wuxi is building huge shopping malls and yet an old man continues to sell toys in a very old-fashioned way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pedestrian Tunnel

This photo didn't turn out as I hoped when I had taken it. What it shows is the entrance to a pesestrian tunnel that goes under the road to the right. A glass frame structure, similar to what you see above, can be found on the other side of the road. What can also be found near this structure is a normal surface pedestrian crossing -- marked by the area. Most pedestrians use the surface crossing and so I wonder what the point of building the tunnel was.

For what it is worth, the tunnel is nice -- well-lit, and I enjoyed walking through it.
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AKIC makes rare trip to the New District
Tuesday night, I had a company class in teach in the New District.  I can't remember the last time  I have gone to the WND.  To get there from Hui Shan takes over an hour by bus.
The company I am teaching for two classes, is in the area of the Baseball Stadium and the Blue Marlin Restaurant (which is now closed).  There is also this International Gourmet Supermarket building nearby but I don't know what that is about.
Compared to Hui Shan, the WND does seem to have more happening.  You can see a Panasonic and Sony plant there -- in Hui Shan, vacancy.
Currently, There is also a great deal of roadwork going on in the WND but I have been told that it is not for a subway.
Now, he likes the Preschool
What difference a couple of weeks makes.  Tony first didn't want to be left at the preschool, and was bawling his head off.  Now, Jenny informs me,  he is impatient to get to school so he can play.

Accident -- scary thought.

At bedtime last night, Tony sleeping in between us, Jenny told me there had been an accident.
"What?", I replied, with anticipation of dread.
She told me that earlier in the day, after she had picked up Tony from preschool and was waiting for the bus, she had gone back two steps to throw garbage away while at the same Tony decided to walk forward two steps onto the bicycle path and into the path of an oncoming electric bike -- Tony was knocked down.
Jenny yelled at the cyclist who also yelled at her. 
Tony wasn't hurt in collision and cried only because his mother was yelling.  I was looking into his eyes when I heard the details from Jenny, and he seemed to be all right.
Still, being told of this, I felt like I was having a strange premonition confirmed, but then I do have these nightmares of something bad happening to Tony.  Wuxi traffic scares me, and it isn't the place to let children do their thing.   Wuxi drivers and cyclists don't seem to have much regard for pedestrians. 
The thought of what happened made me shiver.

Wuxi Tony Update #549: Elevator Operator

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #3

Nothing can be finer than walking on Wuxi's Xueqian Street.

A Police Shack

This is seen on many a corner in Wuxi.
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Seen in Wuxi

The street cleaners have bikes built specially for their jobs.
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A Few Tuesday, Middle March, Ramblings

Evening Coffee
I don't know if it was a good idea but I had to have a coffee in the evening about six p.m. or so.  Some said I would be asleep all night.  Taking this view into account, I decided to drink just have half a cup.  And I slept like a Tony in the evening.

Tony and his doll
Tony is bigger than average here in China.  So the sight of him clinging to his favorite doll, on the bus, has gotten laughter from other children who think he is too old to carry a doll.

Links and Quotes

With this site, you don't need flashcards to help you try to learn Chinese Script.

I didn't do anything wrong.  Or rather, I should say I didn't do that sort of wrong.  I ave erred out of selfish pride -- a common human frailty.

And it is easy to make me feel guilty.

Atheism, not God, is odd.

arithmetic = numbers
geometry = numbers in space
music = numbers in time
astronomy = numbers in space and time

David Warren tells us a way to deal with ad homminem argument:  things that people of our conservative political persuasion always have to deal with.

I noticed ... I'd been named in a column, along with Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Glenn Beck -- and St. Paul, flatteringly enough -- as exemplars of a "rabid misogyny" and "extremist thinking." Or perhaps I rated only with Scott Brown, the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts, as a "pale, albeit appallingly classless, echo of it."

The column, by Janice Kennedy, was on this page last Sunday. It began by offering a game of "Spot the Jerk" -- in which all win, and all must have prizes. And rather than try to refute it, I would invite gentle reader to read or reread it, playing the alternative game of "Spot the Argument." For beyond the ad hominems, I couldn't find one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things Tony does, currently.

  • He can chant "We Will Rock You!".
  • He can say "Good Night!" and "Good Bye!".
  • He can say the Chinese for "milk", "change shoes", and "glass".
  • He can pinch his mom's bum when she is naked.
  • He can recognize Mickey Mouse.
  • He can use a fork.
  • He can say "sit!", but it sounds like "s**t!".
  • He can throw things.
  • He can put things back.
  • He can press the buttons on the elevator.

Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #2

I walk down the street near my apartment.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunday in Wuxi

If you are the sort that takes the weather as a personal affront, that you will not like the fact that it is raining in Wuxi today.
The VPN is wonderful this morning.  I have been able to upload two videos to Youtube (one of which is in the previous entry).
Tony is putting toy construction blocks together instead of tearing them apart as he had been doing.
When he wants milk, Tony says Nai-Nai (or Nye-Nye).  When he has to use the bathroom, he says pee-pee or poo-poo.
At the Dico's Chicken Restaurant near our school, a bunch of teenagers are gathering in the manner of children hanging out at a Seven-Eleven in Canada.  They are engaged in horseplay and vandalism (Mentioning this has shown me how "tolerant" some people can be).  Why can't China's police-state apparatus move them on?
Perhaps they will.
Can you daunt a person?
Chuck Norris fought Bruce Lee in a movie.  I didn't know that.  As well, this movie was set in Rome.

Wuxi Tony Update #548: Tony goes to preschool.

Can't get enough of Tony?


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Big Questions and other things

The Big Questions
I decided to make my Friday English Corner about the Big Questions humans have, so I asked the students about the Big Bang, Evolution, Creation, what happens after we die, right and wrong, can computers have minds, moral versus absolute values, the purpose of life, and what is freedom.  It was a good corner as the questions yielded lots of conversation

Right and Wrong
Asking the students how we decide what is right and wrong lead to a discussion of Bus etiquette.  One of the students asked if it was right for the youngsters to refuse to yield their seats to the elderly, and if it was right for the elderly to directly ask people to give up their seats.  I answered that it was only right and proper that bus passengers yield their seat to the elderly, and it was undignified for the elderly to directly ask for a seat -- a third party should ask get the offending person to yield their seat.  However, the student then asked what to do if the younger person was sick and really wasn't in condition to stand.....

A couple students defined freedom as being able to do what you want.  Of course, others qualified this definition.  I agreed with the student who defined freedom as more choices (a la Milton Friedman's Freedom to Choose).

Saturday morning, I had a seat at the back of the bus that was overlooking the back door.  I saw the driver use the back door, apparently, to stop a passenger from boarding.  An old lady, her bus card in hand, tried to get on the bus, but the back door closed on her.  She was wedged in and so had to pull herself off the bus.  The door was opened again, and the lady tried again to get on the bus.  But the bus started to move and the door closed, knocking her onto backwards onto the street.  Fortunately, there was a bush that caught her fall.

I am not sure why this happened.  Perhaps, the driver was trying to eject her. Perhaps, the old lady was mistaken, or too slow, in trying to get onto a crowded bus via the back door

Wuxi, Church

I took this photo from a classroom at our our school, on Friday afternoon.
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why Wuxi is an exciting city #1

Another video series I am trying.

Construction at Renmin and Zhongshan Roads

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Who cares?

Irrational Fears
Taking a shower this morning, I thought, for whatever reason, about Tony's fear of taking showers.  His fear is irrational; it would seem, from my vantage point.  But putting myself in Tony's shoes, of course the fear is rational -- unknown things should be cause for fear.  Tony is also showing himself to a natural conservative (I read somewhere that children are natural conservatives wanting order and predictability) not wanting to change, what for him is an ideal setup:  taking a warm bath.  The other thought I have about this is how I can see what obvious irrationalities he has.  Would a being or another looking on me or man see what irrational fears we have for rational reasons?  For example, our fear of death.   Are we really fearing a good thing as in the case of Tony who doesn't want to take a shower?
The CPCC Congress
Talking about it with the students last night, I was told the thing was boring and not many were watching it.
A Day without Tony
Thursday, I got up and went to work so early, and then arrived home so late, that I didn't see Tony awake.  Now this occurrence is a good and bad thing.  You don't interact with the guy, but sometimes the interactions are not so ideal.  Also, Thursday evening, I wanted to see his reaction to some magazines I bought for him at Nanchang Market -- magazines about the Cars movie and the In the Night Garden T.V. show, and so I was very disappointed he was asleep.  But when he is asleep, he is an angel; when he is awake, he is sometimes like the devil.
Friday morning, I take him to preschool -- bonding time there.
The bane of my teaching existence is the self-appointed class translator.  They think they are helping their classmates but really they stop their classmates from being able to work out a word for themselves.  If students don't know a word, there is often a way to explain it to them in English that they do know.  Not willing to use this method, a student can be like someone trying to walk always being carried by someone else and wandering why they haven't improved their walking abilities.

Links and Quotes

Pope Benedict XVI
"Fulfillment does not lie in comfort, ease, and following one's own inclinations, but precisely in allowing demands to be made upon you, in taking the harder path. Everything else turns out somehow boring, anyway."

This link talks about something that happen too to someone I know.  I was told about it once but I think about it often.

From the City Journal:

.....the American economy is quite good at creating jobs.

In Japan, by contrast—which ranks 40th in the World Bank Group's "employing workers" standings—lifetime tenure at one company remains the norm, and it's difficult to get a job except immediately after leaving school. The Japanese labor market is like a sold-out show in a theater: people arrive before the curtain rises, sit in their chairs, and don't leave. Anyone coming late tends to lose out. In France, which ranks 155th, many labor contracts severely limit hours and flexibility, high payroll taxes fund workers' benefits, and social policy makes layoffs very difficult. Germany, in 158th place, has many similar policies. If you wanted to extend the theater analogy, you might add that in both France and Germany, the seats are so expensive to build that there aren't enough of them for those who aren't impeccably credentialed.

(*I had a German tell me that grown men will cry if they are laid off from their jobs.  I wonder why*)

China's Leadership in Crisis

Through the past week, I have seen video on the buses of the party congress going on in Beijing.  The linked article above presents a sober analysis of what is happening there.

Wuxi Tony Update #547: Tony leaves his preschool.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back to Work Randoms

More about Bruce Lee
I didn't know that Steve McQueen was a pallbearer at Bruce Lee's American funeral.  It would be so cool to have had Steve McQueen at your funeral.  

I guess dying young can be a great career move.  Unfortunately for me, I am too old to die young.

I was also surprised to learn that Bruce Lee went to the University of Washington in Seattle.  It was on the grounds of the campus that he meet his wife.  I wandered those grounds a few times as I attended Football games at Husky stadium.  To think I walked on hallowed ground.

Nanchang Market Makeover
I should have bought a camera today.  Nanchang Market is getting a complete makeover.  I could have taken some photos of the Nanchang pagoda next to a big construction pit.

The Market's older looking structures are currently having scaffolding erected all around them.

But I can say that at my favorite spot to buy old movies, DVDs have been reduced to two rmb each.

Subway Construction bad for Changan Market business
Thursday morning, I had a class with a business person who owns a shop at Wuxi's downtown Changan Temple Market.  She tells me that since the downtown subway construction started, her business has gone down drastically.  However, she is confident that when the construction is completed in a year's time (she doesn't believe the ten month estimate), that her business will be better than ever.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Common Everyday Scenes

I took these photos Wednesday, about noonish. These pictures aren't anything special, but I would see none of these things in Canada

Enter the Dragon -- seen for the first time.

Tuesday Evening,  I watched, in entirety, Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon, for the first time in my life.  I had seen scenes from it before, and  I was familiar with all the cliches of Bruce Lee, so I somehow assumed I had seen all his films.
But really, how could it be that I hadn't watched a Bruce Lee film till yesterday?  I could day that some films become so big, you don't have to see them to know what they are about.  Bruce Lee films are like Gone with the Wind, American Pie, and Saturday Night Fever, in that manner.  But as I have always said, a movie you haven't seen is a new movie to watch.  Having actually seen Gone with the Wind, and Saturday Night Fever;  and seeing that they were splendid entertainments, I have become open to taking the time to watch other movies that I have known, but not seen.
I didn't actually plan to watch Enter the Dragon when I got up Tuesday morning.  What happened was that Jenny and I went to eat, and do some grocery shopping in downtown Yanqiao (Tony being at preschool).  Being so far from downtown Wuxi, it is hard to find a DVD shop, and the shops you can find in the suburb certainly aren't laowai-friendly, having mostly Chinese fare and very few new releases.  We went to Yanqiao on our electric bike.**  At the supermarket, Jenny told me to drive the bike from the back entrance to the front entrance where she would pay for our purchases and wait for me -- near the front entrance was a toddler shop she wanted to check out. To get the bike from the front to back entrance, I had to ride through a street full of shops, including a DVD shop.  Through its' entrance, I saw a small selection of those tall-packed DVDs -- the tall packs often contain nine or ten movies on one or two discs -- you lose picture quality at the expense of many more hours of entertainment than a one movie DVD can give you.  Anyway, the tall packs drew me into the shop.  Flipping through the DVDs there, I found some interesting collections of horror and science fiction movies -- there were also collections of famous stars like Arnold and Tom Cruise and the Transporter guy.  And of course, I found a Bruce Lee collection of many of his movies (how many did he make - three?) and documentaries.  The two DVD set with 14 movies and shows cost me ten rmb --  very good price, but I was worried that there would be no English -- I had to go home to check immediately.
It turned out that the DVDs have only Chinese audio, but there are English subtitles.  So I watched Enter the Dragon in Chinese with English subtitles -- as ETD was an action film, it really it didn't make any difference.  (I also watched half a documentary as well which featured scenes from Bruce Lee's funeral -- images of his widow looking at his open-casket and immediately losing her composure, were heart-wrenching.)
For what my belated opinion is worth, the movie is great.  Bruce Lee has a screen presence comparable to Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, and Steve McQueen.  He shares a screen intensity with McQueen and a choreographic grace of Astaire.  ETD economically shows Lee's great Kung Fu talent, saving its' best Lee scenes for the last twenty minutes.***
There was a scene in the beginning of the film that showed what has always fascinated me about China -- a woman is running away from a gang of assailants and so she runs through a shanty sort of neighborhood -- the kind that I love to traipse through everyday, even in dull Wuxi. 
Bruce Lee has rejuvenated my interest in the Orient, if somehow belatedly.  Tony and Jenny permitting, I will watch the other movies on that DVD.
**For the first time, I drove the bike with Jenny as the passenger.  Hitherto, I had let her do the driving while I was the passenger.  My first attempts at driving Tony and Jenny on the bike scared the hell out of me.  Yesterday, not having Tony as a passenger, I shed my fears.  Jenny was so pleased with me.
***Tony watched the end of ETD with me.  He found some of the Kung Fu movies quite amusing.