Friday, April 30, 2010
A Nucks-Habs Final
Dare to dream. Just imagine. Let your fancy run wild. What are the chances? Cross your fingers, and pray or hope! Could the Vancouver Canucks and the Montreal Canadiens meet in the Stanley Cup Final? There is a chance -- they are among the eight teams left in the Stanley Cup and being in different brackets, they could only meet in the final. And if it did happen, it would almost be enough to stop me from complaining about Hockey being played into late June and July.
Tony continues to make history
Tony is piling up the historical firsts these days. As I just mentioned in another blog, Tony saw a public portrait of me and exclaimed "That's Daddy" for all to hear. He is also counting. Into my office he went and spun a chair, saying "one, two, three, four" as he did so. He is also muttering lines from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: "Oh Toddles!".
These things happened on April Thirty Day.
Do I need help?
Of course. But then who doesn't? We live in an interdependent world where no one could be a self-contained unit. The best of us may claim to self-sufficient, but at best, they enjoy more fruits of the interdependence then others, or they have rejected the fruits as much as possible without ever not enjoying the fruits at all.
Standing at the bus stop, I saw this woman trying to catch a taxi. It took her five minutes to catch one, which is another story, but what really struck me about her was the length of her hair -- it was straight and hung below her knees. This seemed to be unusual to me, or it was it just a case of my never having paid attention to it before?
The BBC radio program In Our Time currently is presenting an episode about the Great Wall of China. I downloaded it on Friday afternoon, and listened to it on my trek home by bus in the evening. I will say the program is interesting and informative, even if it is done by the BBC.
The BBC has a notorious left-wing bias. But I do listen to this one show because I do have to expose myself to what the Left thinks. Occasionally, this challenges my worldview but more often than not, it confirms to me the errors of their assumptions.
Case in point, one of the guest professors (historians) on the In Our Time "Great Wall" episode, put forth the standard left-wing line about how we must avoid "Judgementalism". He said this when he made a point of declining to call the people outside the Great Wall "Barbarians", and used the less-offensive term "Northern Peoples of Different Cultures". Now whether these people outside the wall were barbaric or less-civilized is a matter of historical judgement -- historians do have to judge based on the evidence they have. It is okay to say you disagree with these judgements and that these judgements are based on very superficial or inadequate evidence. But you can't say that you aren't allowed to judge. It seems that the professor is really scared of making harsh judgements -- not truthful judgements. The Left, with this kind of thinking, is warped.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I first heard this story from students at an English Corner I did on Thursday Night: A knife-wielding man wounded 28 children and three adults Thursday at a kindergarten in eastern Jiangsu province (Taixing). Five children are in critical condition. Taixing, a town which I have been to many times, is about ninety minutes by bus from Wuxi.
My wife then told me the news Friday morning by phone from Beixing, which is a suburb of Taixing. Beixing is Jenny's hometown, and she just happened to be there for a visit. She informs me that the Beixing locals are scared by the news. Tony's grandmother did not want to let him out of her house.
My prayers go out to the children and their parents.
Once you have kids, you can understand the horror of parents when their children are so endangered.
The Wife and Child are away...
....so I am watching Oklahoma! on DVD. If my memory serves me correct, my parents had the soundtrack album, for this 1955 musical, way back in the 1970s. Or was it The King and I?
Either way, I am sure most readers won't understand my desire to watch old Hollywood musicals. I can say that hey come from a time and place that I am sure we can't go back to. Also, the music and dancing is wonderful. You can hear the lyrics, which are often very clever, and you can't help but want to sing and dance along.
You need a spring in your step everyday I say. Especially in any job where you do have to do some performing.
Jenny and Tony will be back in Wuxi Friday afternoon. They went to Beixing for a day.
Visa Application Confusion
It started when I went to a website to find out when we could go to the Visa Centre in Shanghai to drop off Jenny's application. Our plan is to go next Wednesday. Looking at one site, I read this:
Monday: 08:00 – 17:00
Tuesday: 08:00 – 17:00
Wednesday: 08:00 – 17:00
Thursday: 08:00 – 17:00
Friday: 08:00 – 13:30
Comments: Open to public Monday to Thursday from 10:45 to 11:45 to submit in-person applications only; 15:00 to 16:00 for in-person document pick-up only.
Notice the part, I have put in bold letters. That confused the hell out of me. I thought it meant the place was only open for an hour a day. I sent an email to the Visa office to confirm this. (They were fast -- I will give them credit).
Within the text of the email I read this:
Effective August 7, 2008, you are required to book an appointment to submit in-person applications for Temporary Resident Visa and Permanent Resident Travel Document... Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 10:45 AM to 11:45 AM. This counter exclusively provides an appointment booking service. ... And you have to be there in person to make the appointment!
I got to make an appointment? And what if I don't get an appointment for that day? It would be a waste of time for me to go to Shanghai. I had to send another email.
They responded, again very quickly, and told me that no in-person appointments would be available till June 21st. But continuing on, they said my wife could drop off her application at the Visa Application Centre. What was the Visa Application Centre?
Anyway, visiting another site, I saw this:
The Canadian Visa Application Centre in Shanghai will be open Monday to Friday, from 0800 to 1500 hrs excluding Consulate holidays.
As far as I can make out, there are either one or two places in Shanghai you can make a visa application.
And while I grant, I may be the confused one. The two sites I have linked you to are contradictory.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Scribblings you say?
Well, yes. I wrote the following into a notebook, and am now transferring them to the blog. So they count as scribblings because they were scribbled to begin with.
- I didn't leave my wife at the bus stop. I waited till she left.
- Oklahoma! I found the DVD for the musical at a Xueqian Street DVD shop that was not too far from the site of my wedding.
- Donald Duck goes to Brazil -- a very musical cartoon. The DVD was purchased for 2 rmb. Tony is watching it, unbelievably.
- Wednesday was a windy day in Wuxi. The wind raised the dust unsettled by all the construction
- Would the buses still run if the regime collapsed?
- There is a second-hand DVD shop near Big Bridge Middle School. It has posters of the Clash's London Calling album cover, Jimi Hendrix, and Miles Davis. Exact location of the shop? It is on a side street in the shadows of Big Bridge -- the tallest school I have ever seen.
- My honey is on the Internet so I sit in the living room. Tony is beside me watching Peter Pan, the DVD of which we had to re-buy -- we couldn't find the first one. There is also a pile of books and papers nearby: Chinese character learning books, and articles printed from the Internet -- The Mint by TE Lawrence, China as empire or in decline, Man is an unique animal and so not an animal, Conversion, and a Green who just changes his narrative but not his beliefs.
- Lately, I have been giving money to panhandlers. GKC was said to have given his money away very freely -- he didn't bother himself with being cheated.
- Thoughts on the Muslim veil. Too of Oppression? Maybe not. A veil is used to cover sacred things and so show that it really can't be taken for granted. In the West, we don't think this way anymore -- people have got to be liberated. Still, I hear the Muslims stone women who aren't veiled -- case in point, those schoolgirls who couldn't leave the burning building unveiled.
- I am a father, not a person who is engaged in fatherly activity. So, I avoid pubs as much as possible.
- I saw a girl wearing glass frames - no lenses. It is all the fashion.
- Take it all in stride, I told myself. Moments later, I got on the bus, shoving a man out of my way. Doh!!!
Muse, Muse! Where are you?
Except for all the advertising and all the icons and all the toolbars and all the links, I am looking at a blank screen. Or rather I should say that I am looking at a screen that has a blank portion on it.
Either way, I need a Muse. (Or should I say the muse?)
What the hell to write about? (that shouldn't go in my Tony blog?).
What to think?
If someone ever asked me what I thought of China, I would answer that I didn't know what to think because I had been there for so long - over six years.
China has become a place that I live, and so I don't feel entitled to have an opinion about it anymore. China has become for me like Abbortsford, Winnipeg, Shilo, Quebec, Earth, and Oromocto -- places I have lived and may even feel entitled to call home, in a way, and places which of which I wonder what others think.
It is this not being able to have an clear, unbiased view from above about China that will make me go back to Canada in June -- June 12 to June 26, to be exact. I need to find the original unvarnished me that can look at thing in the light of unfamiliarity and thus again have opinions about it.
I also should see my long-unseen relatives.
Never miss an opportunity to do good -- whether on the bus by yielding your seat to someone, or satisfying some one's curiosity, or teaching Leftists of their mistaken beliefs and assumptions
The new 2010 models
It is Spring and so my fancy turns to wondering what the latest models of mosquito-killing electric rackets are like. Do they come with MP3 or MP4 functionality? Can they also be used as BBQ grills?
And does the IPAD have a mosquito killing function?
Russian Dancers at the Hui Shan Ramada
A chance conversation with an employee of the Ramada near my home has confirmed my suspicions. The Latvian in me will boycott the place -- not that I ever went anyway or was even intending to.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
No, I am not trying to name myself after that loathsome leftie Che Guevera. I am throwing in a French word into my ponderous prose style.
Tony watches Three Stooges
Tony laughs at he antics of Curly -- the fat, bald member of the famous comedic troupe.
Tony and Wu Shu?
Tony watched an demonstration of the martial art on the television, and immediately took to flailing and kicking about with his arms and legs.
Tony Fever Update
It has gone away.
Lent out my Three Stooges DVD
A student wanted to watch, and so I made a point of digging it out for her. She watched it, laughed, and I got a free ice cream from KFC.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
I teach a primary school class (Grade One) this Monday afternoon -- flash cards and games including Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Holier than thou Canadians
I was listening to a podcast of the G Gordon Liddy show that featured an exchange between the host and this female Canadian caller. The Canadian said Liddy and his right-wing cohorts were all hateful and loathsome. She also praised the Canadian Health System. Liddy presented her with the horror stories he had heard about the Canadian system -- she said that the stories were all made up. At this point, American listeners to the show were allowed to join in -- interesting comments were made. The one that I think really stuck it to the lady was a complaint from one American that Canadians love to come down to America and act holier-than-thou -- the Canadian refused to believe that her countrymen can do such things.
Well, they do, and I have seen many Canadians adopt that attitude here in Wuxi towards the Chinese.
Something of which I am most definitely guilty myself.
Speaking of Canada, it is hockey playoff time. I get excited for the first round, but by the time the playoffs stretch out to the later rounds, I cease to care. Hockey should not be played in June.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
...And it was just about completed!
Frequently, I have complained about how difficult it is for me to upload videos to YouTube. But considering the site is blocked, I should be happy with how many videos I have been able to upload. However, I am not pleased with the amount of time wasted in doing so.
Case in point this morning. I made about ten attempts. Most of the time, I quickly got a "Upload has failed" message in dire red letters. But one of the videos was 90 percent uploaded, less than a minute away from completion when the message appeared -- thirty minutes wasted with no videos uploaded.
Tony has a fever
Jenny and Tony were going to go to Beixing Sunday morning, but the trip has to be delayed because Tony has a fever. He started feeling sick Saturday morning. Saturday evening, he lay on the sofa, not running and jumping about as he would be when healthy.
He even wanted his father to be beside him. Andis and Tony lay together on the couch for a hour Saturday evening.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Don't matter to me
Friday isn't my Friday since my days off are Tuesday and Wednesday. Comprehendez?
It is not too often that I use the word "Communist" in conversation or in class here. One has to avoid politics. But the word came up when I was trying to explain "Connotation" to a student who I had thought was at a more advanced level of English. Telling him about the connotations the word "Communist" had in America, the student looked at me strangely and asked "what is Communist?". It was the first time I ever had to explain the word and I fudged the explanation. I then used "Gay" as an example.
You don't know what the students know and don't know.
A few days ago, the Chinese were asked to donate money to the Earthquake relief fund. Asking the students if they were donating, I had one student tell me he wasn't because the earthquake wasn't as big as one in '08 -- others hearing this laughed. Other students said they were mistrustful of what was being done with the money -- saying some officials would pocket the funds.
Drunk men on street corner
It was startling to see these three men sprawled on the street corner in my area of Wuxi. I thought for a second that they had been in a traffic accident, but when they arose, I could see that they were blind drunk.
It's time to be talking about the Expo in 2010. I am not sure if I will be going. The wife thinks it will be too big a hassle to attend because of the crowds there will be and the difficulties of finding accommodations.
I was told by the students that some Shanghai residents are letting out their homes for the evening to out-of-town attendees and charging a hundred rmb a night or so.
Visa for Jenny
I am working on getting a Visa for Jenny so we can go to Canada in June. It is a pain gathering the documents we need -- fretting about this has made me blog less.
People who think there are too many people in the world can prove they are really concerned about this by killing themselves. If you really believe in a cause you have to be willing to sacrifice yourself and your life for it.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Kaulins family went to a Korean Restaurant in Wuxi's Nachang Temple Market area on Wednesday evening.
Tony is a chore to take to restaurants because he just won't sit still. He wanders all around the restaurant with his favorite place being the washroom where he can play with the taps. His father or mother have to chase him around -- a chore that they alternate doing.
At the Korean restaurant, Tony acted to form and wandered everywhere. He even tried to trick his father into taking him to the taps by lying about having to do pee-pee. When his father got on to that trick, Tony tried dropping his pants in an more emphatic attempt to get his father to take him to those taps.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
When the chroniclers of a new Chinese dynasty set about describing the decline of the previous dynasty, they always cite warning portents. The beginning of the end of the Han dynasty, we are told, was signaled by a mysterious green serpent appearing in the Great Hall of Benign Virtue, causing the Emperor to flee in terror. Then an earthquake struck the capital, and tidal waves swept coastal dwellers out to sea. Strange double rainbows were observed, and hens were transformed into roosters. Say what? I sometimes wonder if we are being afflicted with similar omens. I haven't seen any reports of hens turning into roosters, but this week did turn up a human embryo with one Dad and two Moms, created in a lab in the North of England. Then, on Wednesday night, a mysterious huge fireball lit up the sky over the Midwest. What can it mean? What can it all mean?
Early into my long bus trip to work yesterday morning, I noticed an intersection that was manned by security types at all four corners -- the guards all had yellow flags bearing writing probably telling everyone to obey traffic rules.
Continuing on this monumental daily trek, it struck me how there were just so many policemen and security guards at every intersection.
I don't know it it is just me, but when I see the local fire trucks in action, I can't help but think they are as loud as banshees but slow as molasses. I swear an electric bike could overtake them on the way to a fire.
My Return Trip Home
I saw these things while on the bus last night:
- A women washing her hands in a puddle on the street.
- Two men clutching onto to each other as they shared a seat on the bus -- the relationship between them being platonic, probably, since friendship between males in China does involve a physical proximity that Western men would abhor.
- A bike, laying on its' side, its' lights still on, in the aftermath of a collision. Two cyclists gesticulating and pointing at each other. The bus moved on before I saw the resolution.
Being stared at
When they stare at me, I look at their shoes to see their social status -- the harder the stares, the lower the status.
Free Bus Ride!
The Bus debit card reader wasn't working on the bus last night -- the driver waved the card bearers onto the bus.
Or Observation? Practically, the instant after you think everything is all right, it isn't. Something knocks you off the rails so that you quickly realize the the groove you were in was nothing but the most naive of presumption. One, even in one's calm moments, must never let one's guard down. For it is then that the evil one pounces.
Dire predictions to give us living in China pause.
Two Great Blogs
Courtesy D&N, a great blog written by a sensible Brit, I got the above link.
Another blog that you must read is of course Seablogger, its' author is knowledgeable and interesting on a wide manner of topics including poetry, culture, climate and volcanoes. His battle against a terminal illness is inspirational as well. I am proud to be a rare reader of Fresh Bilge.
A Wuxi Dodger
The Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, now based in Los Angeles, got its' nickname from the fact that its' fans had to dodge tram cars to get to the stadium.
I should call myself a Wuxi Dodger. On rainy days, I have to dodge huge puddles.
Darn! The lack of drainage!
I am not talking about my son Tony, though if I wanted to, I could do a blog called Tony's Disobedience that would never be lacking for daily content.
At the intersection near my school, I saw a old lady on a bike run a green light. The cop screamed at her for doing this but she just kept on going. A security guard who stood at a corner opposite to that of the cop, just let her ride past.
I label a cop anyone who stands at an intersection, looks young, has a walkie-talkie, and has nice shiny looking police gear, including hat, shoes, and uniform. Security Guards look old and dumpy -- with uniforms that would all the fashion in North Korea.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The students expressed genuine hostility to all that is pink in my Saturday English Corner.
How much hostility did they exhibit? It was nasty. I could only compare it to Anti-Americanism I have seen from Expats. It laid me back on the floor, as the expression goes, I think. And I was laid back in shock....
...Not! What really happened was that most students said they wouldn't wear pink. One woman admitted to having some pink dresses and shoes that she wore in the summer.
Tarzan's Secret Treasure
Saturday night, I was really getting into the DVD of that movie, which I had purchased at Nanchang Market for 2 rmb, until Tony decided to take out the Tarzan out of the player and replace it with The Simpsons.
It isn't worth the trouble to try and stop him.
Still, the interaction between the Monkey and the Elephant, in TST, was amazing -- I don't understand why Tony couldn't appreciate it.
Ballerina Dress and Boxing Boots
Saturday, one of the girls at school was wearing a black sweater, black tights, a black frilly short skirt, and white boxing boots -- an amazing a getup as I have seen in a while.
Butter makes rice taste better
Butter or Margarine with local Wuxi Rice -- that's the ticket! However, what can you add to Baijoe (White Lightning) to make it palatable? Peach Juice?
Hell no! My new glasses are really eating glasses. At supper tonight, I put them on because the food was getting blurry.
What am I trying to say?
What is it that I am trying to say with this blog?
- I am a guy, living in the People's Republic of China, who has a Chinese wife and son.
- Life is amusing.
- Tony, like all children, is troublesome and wonderful.
- Leftists suck and would be very amusing if none of what they preached was put into practice. Unfortunately, their wrong ideas are being implemented and so they are dangerous -- and I can't help but have a black sense of humour.
- Anti-Americanism is akin to Anti-Semitism
- The Chinese people are generally okay, but they drive dangerously.
- The small details are the most fascinating and the most important.
- It is better to be sensible than to be cool.
- It is better to be enthusiastic than to be cool.
- There is something wrong with people who try to put on cool airs.
- Being a parent is not a lifestyle choice but a calling, a duty, and something people should do unquestionably like breath and use the bathroom.
- I am not an atheist or an agnostic.
- I am ridiculous.
- Being a woman is terrible because the only other sex there is is Men.
- My wife has more common sense in her pinkie than I have in my whole body and wardrobe.
- Being here is like watching a car accident in progress.
- Being here, you have sacrifice some integrity.
- The truth will set you free, in ways that are inconvenient but must be endured.
- Family trumps everything -- even my selfish whims.
- I am annoying but there is nothing to be done about -- to not be annoying is to be a coward.
What am I trying to do?
What am I trying to do with this blog?
- To annoy some and please others.
- To provide my version of living in Wuxi.
- To keep my parents informed.
- To assuage my guilt.
- To keep myself busy.
- To see what happens.
- To be puckish.
- To eliminate my delusions.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Never Bought a CD
I did a salon class about music in which I asked the students about their music-acquiring habits and had one student tell me that she has never bought a music CD, and so essentially has never bought music at all.
No one in the class, except me, had bought records -- these are things they have seen in movies.
Most of the class never heard of the Beatles, but they have heard of Mariah Carey. Those two facts together are scary. Separately, they are unimportant and not surprising.
I have been able to upload some videos to Youtube, but only after repeated tries. In the last week, I have made 100 attempts to upload videos, with only three being successful. I have to take a "give it a try but don't become obsessed about it" attitude. Really, I want to be a writer-blogger, not a video content provider. And the uploading of videos takes away from that.
I would like to ask the students "What is it with Pink? Why is that color so associated with the female of the species? Why did most men feel uncomfortable wearing it?"; but they won't understand that question.
Last night, I asked the students "Why is there music?", and they answered "to make us relax." which really didn't answer my question which was probably too deep for them to understand in a second language.
ABBA in China?
Another one of my students said she saw ABBA in Beijing And she told me how the audience was seventy percent foreign and old, and they were dancing to the music. I saw the same thing at the Rolling Stones concert in Shanghai -- I hadn't seen so many old white people together since I saw Mel Gibson's The Passion at a theater in the Bible Belt of British Columbia, Canada.
That in turn tells me that I haven''t seen my relatives in a long time either.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I am trying to create an alliterative effect, so I looked for a synonym for "thought". "Focus" was the only word in the list of syns that started with "f". So there!
Two movies about Angels
I was able to watch a DVD in its' entirety on Wednesday Evening, but not before I didn't go through watching another in its' wholeness.
If you know about my son Tony, you must wonder how I was able to find the time. Well, what I did was get Tony to watch Mickey Mouse on the computer -- that was the trick.
The next trick was to find a movie to watch. I had nothing in mind, so I flipped through my stash. I found Wings of Desire, a movie directed by Wim Wenders, that I was much taken with back in my schooling days. Its' basic storyline is that an angel decides to abandon eternity to be mortal and have a life. The film seemed life-affirming, profound, and featured the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. So it was cool and everything else. When DVDs came out, I looked everywhere for a copy of Wings of Desire, which I eventually found.
Anyway, Wednesday, I started watching Wings of Desire. The first thing I noticed was that its 'pace was terribly slow -- the Angels talked a lot, and made their point early on -- I thought "get on with the story!" My wife Jenny joined me to watch the start of the movie and soon told me to get another film -- the film had no story she said.
So, flipping through my collection, I found It's a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed -- a film like WoD that has angelic characters, although the IWL's main character is just an ordinary mortal. Jenny enjoyed It's a Wonderful Life and wasn't aware of the movie being a perennial Christmas must-watch in the West. Which goes to show ya....
They don't make movies like they used. And slow, ponderous movies are boring and a test of one's patience.
If only I had the time, I could write a good essay about the differences in the two movies and the points of view they each represent.
No! No! No!
Tony answers all questions with that phrase. And since the questions contradict themselves, Tony does as well.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I don't if the people, performing these kicks I saw, were do Tai Chi or Kung Fu or some other martial art. But whatever they were doing, these kicks they performed were so graceful and displayed such ease of movement. I wished I could have filmed these kicks for I saw the "art" of martial art.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Here is a link to show the pictures of each stop of Wuxi Metro Line 1.
Walking for the sake of walking
It has always been my habit to get to a place ten or fifteen minues earlier than I need to -- to me, showing up right on time shows you don't give a damn -- a few minutes late and you are really pushing yourself into damnation. Say I am anal but it shows I care -- coolness is a vice and not helpful in most situations -- I would rather not be helped by people who are too pleased with themselves.
However, there may be times when you should not be too early. For instance, once at the preschool, I came early, unknowingly, and the teachers were annoyed at me for interrupting the class as Tony was pulled out. When I am there, Tony can smell me so I do have to time my appearance to the minute. As well, if I get to the preschool late, and Tony gets upset at being the last to be picked up.
Yesterday, I arrived in the area of the preschool twenty minutes before Tony could leave, and so I decided to walk the area, in an aimless sort of fashion, to burn the minutes. And so I found myself walking down pathways that foreigners normally don't go. At one place, I had to go either left or right, and so I hesitated. This old women then pointed in a rightward directions - why I couldn't ascertain. Leftwards look interesting, and so I went that way and hit a dead end. Going in the direction indicated by the women I came to a bridge that would have taken me to park had I chosen to go, but I had to go back to the direction of the preschool. Along the way, I passed some workers who all stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
It is hard to wander in China inconspicuously.
Tony said "Thank you!" to me yesterday after I did him a nice turn. As I reported, he said "Xie xie!" to his mother, the day before yesterday, after she gave him a cookie.
No seat on the bus
This happens a lot to Jenny, but never to me, until yesterday afternoon. Carry Tony onto a crowded bus, and I can always count on someone yielding their seat to us. But, as I say, It didn't happen yesterday, and I could only but be amazed that my wife could hold Tony for so long. I lasted about twenty minutes. I stood with Tony near an able-bodied man who I thought could be counted on to yield his seat -- he didn't. I even tried to crowd him in, Tony's feet in his face, so he would get the message, but nothing. I was then hoping for some quick stops from the driver so Tony could inadvertently kick him in the head. All the while, I was telling myself to be cool and that lord knows, I had probably done a selfish thing like that too and not yielded my seat. And then an old woman sitting behind the able-bodied man yielded her seat to us -- I then proceeded to tap the able-bodied man on the shoulder so he could give his seat to the old woman -- he would have, but she refused.
I can't do much about other people's behavior, but I wondered if I was right in thought and actions.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Tony asking for a cookie becomes Moment for the Ages
You can talk about Lincoln freeing the slaves, Alex the Great doing all that conquering, Napoleon going to Moscow, and whatever it was that Genghis whats-his-name-did-with-his-hordes. I don't give a tinker's tuss! You may, but that just goes to show ya! Tony did something much more important last night.
He asked his mother for a cookie which Jenny, in all her wonderful loving kindness, gave to him. And then he said something.....
Sickos may ask if he said ******! or @@@@@! or %&&&&#&#! He didn't.
Australians may think he said "@@@@@&@##@#@#@## ##$$%$%#%!" He didn't say that either.
What Tony did say, to his mom, when he received the cookie was "Xie Xie!" which is Chinese for "Thank You!". What a good little boy!
And what a simple way to make history. The small things in life can be the biggest milestones. Manners are never a thing to be taken for granted.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Doing some research, I came across this link for the Ramada Hotel that is near my apartment. I was surprised to learn that the hotel, and thus my apartment, is 18 miles from a McDonald's. I haven't lived so far from a McDonald's since I lived in Shilo, Manitoba.
I am at work and I have to keep myself busy, so here goes nothing:
Mickey Mouse in Spanish
Tony has got Mickey Mouse on the brain as the expression goes. He just can't get enough of it. And he begs so much for it, that he can pronounce the words "Mickey Mouse" quite properly, which gets me to thinking. What if he watches Double M in Spanish? Could he pick up on some Spanish too? Spanish always sounds cool to me, even though the methods of social organization of Spanish people leave something to be desired. Having a kid that could speak Spanish seems a cool idea.
And it just so happened that last night when I, at Tony's beckoning, put the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD into the player, the menu showed it had a Spanish audio option. I choose it and hoped for the best. But Tony seemed puzzled and was hoping to use the English vocabulary he had picked up from the MM shows already.
So much for that idea.
The Three Conditionals
If I know, I will know.
If I knew, I'd know.
If I had known, I would have known
If it had been in Spanish, it would have been the three amigos, that's for sure.
I hope not.
The Polish Plane Disaster
You can't blame anyone for suspecting the Russians having something to do with that airplane crash that killed the Polish President. The Russians, and Soviets have a proven track record of lying -- the Katyn Massacre, that the Polish President was going to and which the Russians lied about, is proof of that. If the Russians really wanted to absolve themselves of blame for this crash, they should invite an impartial international commission to conduct an investigation of the accident instead of having Putin, a former KGB agent and manipulator of the Russian constitution, personally head it. It is like having Stalin take part in the investigation of the Ukraine Famine.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I will talk about some of the podcasts I listened to after all.
I came across this podcast at the Lapham's Quarterly site. (Or least, I think I did. Looking at the LQ site, I don't see the podcast link, but it is in the title). The idea of the podcast is that people tell stories, without notes, and the best tellings are presented in the podcast. I have downloaded the five latest Moth podcasts and found them interesting, but somehow lacking something.
The first podcast I heard was Lost at Sea by Deborah Scaling Kiley. Kiley talked about how much she loved her sailing lifestyle and hanging out with Sailor Dudes. In her story, KIey recounted how after not listening to her mother, she became a crew member on a boat that was run by very disorganized and irresponsible people. They for instance didn't maintain discipline and they got drunk -- and they seemed like people who would consider people like me to be "too uptight." The journey with this bunch, puts the women in a life-or-death situation, and in fact some of her crew mates died. She survived and thanked God for giving her the strength to survive. She is writing a book about survival for the benefit of others.
I found the story very off-putting because really it was an anecdote of irresponsibility, and I couldn't care less if the people survived or died. It was this irresponsibility and a lack of planning ahead (that looked-down-upon bourgeois habit) that put them in their predicament. That people had to die was terrible, but their suffering wasn't at all noble. The ending was presented as a sort of redemption for her, but it wasn't a redemption I found inspiring or educational. Kiley should have been penitent in the end, thanked God for not dying, and realized that her mother, with her boring bourgeois sensibility, was wiser.
Listening to Radio Derb, I heard that a lizard with two penises has been discovered. All of the lizards in Wuxi Pubs, I assume, only have one... Or something like that. The play I was to make on the words seemed more clever when I thought about it last night.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Women drinking on the Subway
I had a student, Friday night, tell me that he has been to Moscow and had witnessed open drinking of alcohol on the subway there -- and he said more women than men were doing this.
I will ask the students what they think and know about Russia in a future English Corner.
My experience with Russians in China has been minimal -- surprising considering how Russia is a neighboring country.
The same student told me another funny anecdote about being invited to eat with the Japanese. One of the student's colleagues has a stinky foot problem. So when the colleague went to the dinner, there hadn't been time for a change of shoes and a foot-wash, and since it is customary to sit at a low table without shoes, cross-legged, there was a noticeable odor. The colleague was very embarrassed about this, and yet the Japanese hosts didn't appear to notice.
The student cited this anecdote of proof of the wonderful manners of the Japanese. It could also be that the Japanese are used to this. But I would say it was the former explanation that is true.
A Tumbly-Bo -- Tony Reunion
Read about Tony and his doll here.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Though I didn't have to be at school till eleven, Friday morning was hectic. Jenny had to catch a 910 train to Changzhou, and I had to get Tony to the preschool by 930.
It is good life sometimes.
Yang Shan Trip Kindness
The students were so nice to me on the field trip to Yangshan Mountain. On the trip, they continually offered Tony treats. They also wanted to relieve me of having to carry him everywhere but, unfortunately, Tony wanted nothing to do with them -- insisting on always being carried by me.
The kindness has continued on through the week as the students have printed and given me many photos of me and Tony on the trip. One student even gave me a framed photo of Tony on my shoulders.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
As I was walking Tony at the square near our apartment, I saw that some of the flags of nations in front of the Hui Shan "Community" Center were hung in a curious manner.
I am ashamed to say that after living in China for six years, my Chinese is still awful. At best it might rise to the elementary school level. The knowledge I have gained of Chinese characters wouldn't past muster in a grade one class. I can pick up a few words spoken every now and then, but I can't have any sort of conversation -- dialects, accents, and my bad pronunciation prevent that.
I envy those Expats who are proficient in Chinese. Some of them can achieve a celebrity status -- more envy from me. (Though to be honest, just being a foreigner in Wuxi does give one some status. I have appeared in local magazines, in newspapers, and on television. I have even experienced a sort of adulation from a mob. So, I can say celebrity and fame are probably very annoying for those who suffer through it full-time). The Expats with good Chinese abilities have an insight into China that I envy as well. How many times I have seen the Chinese talk pleasantly about those foreigners who speak Chinese well.
However, the high status and admiration the Expats can get here comes at a price -- a bargain with the devil has to be made. You give up your freedom of thought.
There is an Expat who can be seen on the video screens of all the public buses. His Chinese ability has lead to him having a co-hosting gig on a learn English show -- a promotional tool of an English school rival to mine in Wuxi. It is a great gig that must beat the heck out of teaching.
However, I didn't envy the man when I saw what he had to do in the episode of his show currently playing on all the buses. He was wearing the red scarf of the Young Pioneers -- the youth wing of the Chinese Communist Party. He and his co-host were presenting the English vocabulary for terms associated with that group. When I see the Red Scarfs, I am reminded of the scarfs worn by the murderous Khmer Rouge.
Maybe, I should try to learn Latin again.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Because I can't seem to upload to Youtube, I have uploaded the "Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city" video series to Clipshack.
Here they are three of the latest WWCIAEC's:
Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #10: In this video I cross the street. You will see the consideration of Wuxi Drivers for pedestrians.
Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #11: I took this video carrying my son Tony on my shoulders. We are on the top of a parkade looking at the street below.
Why Wuxi, China is an exciting city #12: I love walking through Wuxi neighbourhoods. I can't get enough of it. I hope you can't either.
Try as I might, I haven't been able to upload any videos to Youtube for over two weeks now. I will try to upload them to some other video services. Of course, you can always try to watch them at Youku.
Bodies flying everywhere
My mind boggles that a Wuxi person can tell me that they have never seen or passed an accident scene.
Last night, I was minding my own business near the Trust Mart on Euro street, waiting for a bus to take me home, when I saw a couple bodies roll, fly, and tumble. First, I saw the tail-end of a scooter's collision with a guard rail -- the driver rolled and staggered before he tried to pick up his bike - no passersby assisted him. Meanwhile in the background of this, I saw another body flying in the air after being hit by a taxi making a left turn. I then thought to myself that these things happen in threes, but thankfully my bus came and I witnessed no more incidents.
I spent the Tomb Sweeping Holiday (Monday) at Nanchang Temple Market and the Old Carrefour on Qingyang Road (that is where I bought my reading glasses). I have to tell you, it was ugly. All the construction! They are even redoing the main floor of Wuxi's original Carrefour. And to walk through Nanchang Market is to dodge construction scaffolding -- not at all enjoyable.
The Wuxi I first saw five years ago is disappearing to be replaced by lord knows what.
Monday, April 5, 2010
I have been talking about, but it took the impetus of my wife to get it done. I bought reading glasses on Monday -- 210 rmb. And so I get older and feel older.
It will take me a while to get used to the glasses. Right now, I am reluctant to put them on. I am told that when you start using them, your eyes get lazy.
I don't know how to carry the damn things.
I don't know where to put them.
The amount of frames I had to choose from was overwhelming. I went for a simple black plastic design which Jenny said made me look really old.
Still, it is nice to be able to read smaller print without strain.