Monday, May 31, 2010

Children's Day

Everyday is Children's Day, I was cynically told twice yesterday.
Be that as it may, June 1 is a special day for children in China, and so special things will be done for them.
Jenny, for instance, has bought Tony chocolates which she said I can't touch.

Latest Possible May Entry

And the oldest profession is....
Thursday, I asked this question and the students guessed... Teacher, Priest, Hunter, Farmer, and Butcher!  among other things.  But none of them said prostitute.  Maybe it never dawned on them, or the topic was taboo.  When they asked me why this was so, that is, that "they" say that "it" is the oldest profession, I didn't have any ready explanation.  I had never questioned the cliche till then.
And so now, I wonder...  This idea that prostitution is the oldest profession--  has it been confirmed by some branch of study?  Or is the statement, simply a clever aphorism, that has been naturally and cynically assumed to be true?  I assume that a profession must earn exchange or money, not just survival, before its activities can permit it to truly be called a profession.  I guess that in the age of barter, the service in question  was provided by wives or mates.  Once monetary exchange was possible, the services of a prostitute could earn cash and be separated from the wifely  position.  A mate was attached to a hunter or gatherer who could provide protection.  And so if money had to be used as a means for professions to earn income, the earliest profession may well be the minter of money or provider of credit.
Lady Ga Ga
Hearing so much about Lady Ga Ga, I went to youku to view some of her videos.  I was underwhelmed.  I just couldn't see anything about her that would put her above the other pop artists that are out there now.  I do confess I approached the videos with the prejudicial attitude of disdain, but nothing I saw even gave me moment for pause and for questioning of my assumptions.  She afforded me no guilty pleasure.  She was awful, and the product of a marketing phenomenon that I know much better than to be seduced by.
John Wayne's birthday is in May, late May exactly.  And I just so happened to watch the movie Stagecoach before I heard about it being his birthday.  Nice coincidence.  Anyway, in Stagecoach, his first appearance on the screen had him looking like an Adonis.
Why my wife married me.
I heard my wife saying that when she meet me, I was a terrible customer for her -- she was a hostess for a beer company at the time.  I only drank a beer a night at the pub and she earned income from selling as many beers as possible. 
But this showed to her that I had the attributes to make a good husband -- economy, and discipline.

A visit from a reader
I can say, with pride and truth, that this blog has caused me to meet people I wouldn't otherwise have crossed paths with.  These people have wished me well with this endeavor, and I feel ashamed in that I can't fully repay their kindness.  I hope though that in the future, somehow, some way, I will be able to be as kind to others as they have been to me.

Friday, I had lunch with an Englishman and his Wuxiren wife  They live in England but come back often to see the woman's parents. This time back to China, they went to Tibet where the scenery was wonderful but the cities seem tense as soldiers could be seen everywhere.  

Not with a bang but a whimper
The King of Wuxi will be moving to Winnipeg where he will henceforth be known as the King of Winnipeg.  I wish him all the best.  Wuxi Expatdom's loss is Winnipeg's gain.

His departure has been one without pomp and fanfare, from me anyway, and really unbefitting for a  monarch. But so much goes on in Wuxi, on a personal level, that is so typical of the human condition and banal that you can't report it in a blog  -- that is, you can't talk of the divisions, all that much.   

It seems that when you leave a small community, you are ultimately escaping it.  (Although, it wouldn't be fair to say that about all small communities.)  The Wuxi Expat community is one where people don't come to live or have community -- they are often here for reasons nefarious.  And so I find myself disillusioned by so many human relationships and even more by how I have dealt with them - mea culpa.  
Time to move on for the King.
My time has yet to come.

Sight I Saw
In a field, sat an old man on a manhole cover -- his head in his hands, he looked like a broken depressed man.  Meanwhile, behind him stood a woman doing some calisthenic exercise -- she looked to be miming a pushing action.  What she was pushing in her imagination was hard for me to determine -- but the thing being pushed was conceived by her as being very springy.

Insert clever observation here:  Well, obviously there was a contrast but what it had to say, I don't know other than the proximity of the moods is not something you would see in Canada -- Canadians would not be so ebullient close to someone so depressed.
When's your mother's birthday?
This simple question earned some interesting answers from some students Monday evening.  I learned that one student's mother's birthday was on April 5 which was a day after his  birthday on April 4 -- an interesting coincidence.  As well, April 5 is Tomb Sweeping Day in China and also my sister's birthday -- two more mind blowing coincidences. 
Another student said she didn't know her mother's exact birthday.  This was because her grandmother couldn't remember the exact date the birth had happened, other than it was in July.  This is not the first time I have heard of this inexactitude about birthdays.



Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two more videos taken in Wuxi, China.

Watch this and this.  The first was taken on Xueqian Road.  The second was taken near a downtown Wuxi Church.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Walking in a Wuxi, China Electrical Market

Why Wuxi, China is exciting #18

Friday with Tony

Andis had a good Friday with Tony; Jenny didn't. 
In the morning, Andis took Tony to preschool.  On the bus, Tony was well-behaved.  At the preschool, he was drowsy and slept in Andis's arms.  When the teachers at the preschool beckoned him to come to class, he came to them without a fuss.  He even gave Andis a good-bye kiss.
So, Andis looked forward to seeing Tony after work.
However, Andis arrived home to hear Jenny screaming sharply at Tony.  The atmosphere of pleasantness became tense.
Jenny told Andis that Tony had: stolen a can of pineapple beer and spilled it on the sofa, turned off the computer on her while she was using it, peed on the floor, and had taken some lotion and rubbed it all over his legs.  She was not at all pleased with him.  Andis had to calm her down.
In Tony's defence, Jenny did determine that the peeing incident was a result of an effort on Tony's part to pee by himself -- something he is on the cusp of doing it.  But his attempt was unsuccessful, and so he looked for some lotion to rub on the pee that had landed on his legs.  To have seen Tony with his pants down, rubbing the lotion on the legs would have been an interesting sight to see, Andis thought.
But Jenny didn't think so.  Tony fell asleep in Andis's arms because he was very scared of his mom at that moment in time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I wish I could have taken a video.

The people in the photo above are waiting for the crane to move forward. In the photo, it is crossing a pedestrian pathway through a Wuxi subway construction site.

This is the crane I referred to in the previous entry.

Below is what the crane was toting. This piece of metal, as I said, was huge, nearly fifty meters in length.

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Late May Bloggings

Interesting Choice
I almost wish I had this student's choice.  His company wants him to spend two years in Cambodia.  They will give him double pay, and four trips home per year.  The only hitch is that his girlfriend doesn't want to wait for him.  He must decide between love and money/travel. 

 If I was in his shoes, I would go to Cambodia.

Muggy Weather
It is getting sweaty here in Wuxi.
Wearing Glasses
For about a month or so, I have been using reading glasses.  I hate wearing them except when reading.  Off my sweaty nose, they keep slipping, I've noticed when I have worn them teaching -- absolute torture.
And the other thing I have noticed:  When you wear glasses to read, you also need glasses to eat.

But on the bright side, I have told I look professorial.
That is the way I feel after talking to large groups of people.
Fit to be tied, again.
I thought I had gotten through fine, but I made a slip and earned eternal infamy in the eyes of the group.  Arrgghh!  A memory to forever haunt me!  A memory to pop into my head uninvited.  And yet, it was just a conglomeration of circumstances, and I couldn't have acted other than I did.

Does my conscience ever leave me alone?

The 2010 Kaulins Family Canada Odyssey Itinerary

From June 10 to June 16, we will be in British Columbia

From June 16 to June 27, we will be in Manitoba.

Is it okay to make fun of North Korea?
Normally, it would be.  But I am in China.  Am I making fun of their ally?
Love your enemy, they say.  I say sure, but the enemy is often ourselves.
Too tired to act other than how I really feel.
Hilary and Obama
I did a SPC about fame.  According to the students, the most famous people in the world, male and female, are Obama and Hilary Clinton. 
Is that the best this world can do?  I mean we have more people alive now than ever.  Why are these stunning mediocrities, who are more the benefactors of circumstances than the creators of them, the world's most well-known?
The best of all time?  The students mentioned Mary, the virgin, and Napoleon.
Chinese and Russians
Chinese don't trust Russians doing business.  The Russians like to renege on deals and not compensate for lost production.

Tony's imperfections 
Anthony watches too much television.  He picks his nose and leaves the pickings everywhere.  He drinks and spits the fluid back into the container.
Uncharitable Thought
He is the best looking guy in the bar -- for his age and weight class.
Google Reader
Don't get me wrong.  After discovering the Google Reader, I can't help but love it.  It allows me to access all my favorite blogs and sites on one page.  But one morning I had 500 unread pieces!!!
Must Read
With so much to read on the Internet, I have to say David Warren is the number one read for me.
Old Latvians
This trip to Canada won't be glamorous.  We will be going on a very tight budget.  And we will be meeting a lot of old Lativans -- not that there is anything wrong with that, but they don't reek of glamour.  One of them, an aunt I used to live with, is very sick, I have been told.  I pray I will be able to see them when I arrive next month.
Children of Migrant Workers
That is, the offspring of the workers who come here to do construction, don't get admitted into Wuxi schools, I have been told.  And it makes for social problems.
I wish I could have taken a photo.
Walking down a narrow roadway, I saw a cyclist riding directly in front of a dump truck going fairly fast.  The cyclist got out of the truck's way; but for a few seconds, it looked like she was going to be run over.
James Dean T-Shirt
A student was wearing a James Dean t-shirt.  Asking her about it, I learned she didn't know who James Dean was.  She thought he was handsome, though.
It is interesting to see the Chinese wearing Iconic Western Culture images without knowing their significance.  I have seen many Chinese wearing Beatle shirts without having a clue about who the Fab Four were.
 Another I wish I could have taken a picture
In fact, I wish I could have taken a video.  This time, I was walking in downtown Wuxi when I saw a huge piece of metal, possibly fifty meters in length and three meters in width, dangling on a crane hook.  The crane was moving cross a pedestrian path.  Workers were trying to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from crossing the crane's path, but they were ignored.  The metal was needed for subway construction.
I slap myself
I am in China, I said to myself.  Who would have thought it, ten years ago?

Tony says "bicycle!"

Wednesday was Andis's day to pick up Tony from the preschool.  Arriving home, Tony saw the Kaulins family electric bicycle parked in front of the apartment entrance.  Recognizing it, he said "bicycle!".
Andis told Jenny about this, and she was surprised.  It was an historical first.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Self Portrait

For those who care, here is how I am looking these days.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where is the action?

In the AKIC world, all the action is currently happening here.   TKIC is updated daily for those of you who love the Tony Boy!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Weekly Bloggin

Canada here we come!
The dates are set.  The K family will go to Canada from June 10th to 27th. 
Chinese Learning
I am almost finished my Elementary Chinese Reader Volume #1.  I must recognize 100 characters by now.  This reader I have was printed in 1979.  

The Chinese who have seen the book wonder why I consult a volume so old.  Everyone in China seems to have a fetish only for the new.  It would seem that all that was old and valuable was destroyed in 1966-76.  And what is old here isn't worth anything.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
So far, I find it unfunny.  Of course, I do have the snobby attitude that Sci-Fi is a deficient literary genre.  But it hasn't even gotten an involuntary laugh out of me.
Someone told me that they envied my DVD purchasing because he couldn't afford any DVDs.  And it turns out I don't have anytime to watch them.  Tony hogs the DVD player every evening.  The little bugger.
Ezra Pound
David Warren mentions Ezra Pound.  And I just so happen to be  currently on a regimen of one Pound poem a day.  Now, I know about Pound's foolishness in WWII.  Be that as it may, he was a great poet.  I found his poems all so powerful, especially some of the Chinese translations he did.
Have I performed a sacrifice for someone today?  Or on any other day, for that matter?
Do I hate Econometrics because it is complicated?  Is this the real reason I agree with Econometric detractors who see the "con" in Econometrics?  Possibly.  But there is truth in the fact that Economic measures can never have the certitude of those measures made by Physicists.  Examples: Inflation and GDP growth measures are approximations, based on arbitrary assumptions, of reality.
I am drawn to Economics for moral and philosophical reasons.  And also for the fact that I felt I was poor growing up.  I find myself also drawn to religion for the same two reasons.  I also find that this talk of this world not being worth a spit compared to the kingdom to come appealing as well.

Like Religion, Economics breeds lots of charlatans.  Most of these Economic Charlatans, however,  seem to end up as business commentators who tell you about the forest based on the tree that they do know.
China seems like a pile of brick and sand without charm or soul.
Market Society versus Market Economy
Father Raymond J. De Souza makes a distinction between the Market Economy and the Market Society.  It is a useful distinction I feel.  The former we should have as a matter of course like we have hammers and wheels -- it makes our lives materially better.  However, the latter involves an inability to separate the market from the spirit.  In the market society, gifts become obligations and are so involuntary exchanges.  Gifts, properly, should elevate the spirit of both parties.  I find gifts to be scary things -- especially in China because they mean obligations and they tell me how inadequate I am.
China seems to have evolved into a market society, or more properly an Engineer's playground - build at the expense of mere tradition seems to be its logic.  The Chinese hate the old thing (like the Chinese reader I am working with).
Funeral Procession
I happened to walk past a funeral procession last week.  I saw a band and mourners wearing black armbands.  I tried to bow in reverence but I was thrown off by sudden, loud fireworks, and cars blaring their horns at the procession to move out of their way.  The latter action would be interpreted as being very rude in the West, I am sure.  However in China, the horn is meant to warm someone you are coming from behind.  So you could argue that the horn-blaring wasn't rude.  But still...
Pearl Necklace and a tattoo
On the bus, I saw a man, eyes covered with sun glasses, wearing a short sleeve shirt with open chest.  Around his neck, he had what looked like a pearl necklace with pendant.  On his forearm, he had a tattoo.
I saw a truck swerve to avoid an electric bike attempting to cross the street at a crosswalk.  The truck driver acted like he was hard done by, though he probably approach the crossing at an excessive speed.
It is hard to determine who is hard done by in Chinese traffic.
What year was my father born?
I am fit to be tied.  I didn't know till Thursday night, what year my father was born it.
Green light means go?
Just because you have a green light doesn't mean you have a clear path.  I was being driven home Thursday at rush hour and I saw a lady pushing a long food cart against the regulated flow of traffic.
Lu Xun and Lao Zi
I reread a Lu Xun story where Lao Zi, a great Chinese philosopher, delivers a lecture to a bored audience who can't understand his accent and dialect.  Lao Zi is then forced to write the lectures down.  The possessors of the text hope some sucker will eventually buy the "claptrap".
The Chinese like this number because it sounds like "I want riches" in Chinese.  "Wo yao Ba".  "Wo yao Fa"
This bothers me in a way because my Chinese sounds like Chinese in a way, but they can't seem connect what I am trying to say to how I have mispronounced it.

A crappy poem

A Plea for "0"

Out of date!  Out of Date!
So you don't get to fornicate!
There is no way you can join in the fun!
So you cling to your religion and gun!
You weren't to take the dope.
So, you didn't appreciate his message of hope.
Get away from the firing range,
and join in the campaign for change.
He only wants to spread the wealth,
and make sure you have good health.
As well, he wants to stop the heat,
from melting away the white bear's heat.
What's wrong with you guys? Why so blind?
Here is a man we can all get behing!
You might have a loving clue,
if you didn't worry so much about his hue.
He is the man to bring peace in our time.
And make us live happily on the government dime.
Stop focusing on the man named Jeremiah,
Or risk becoming an Ukranian peasant pariah.
He is the way of progress.
You only want to bring out regress,
the lameness of sameness
the eternal hypocritical gracelessness.
It ain't no difficult riddle.
You got to hug the middle.
Stop it with the tea bags,
unless you want your neighbor in rags.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scraps, Visas, and Greyhounds

A good scrap
Going through the WND, Friday afternoon, I saw a great tussle in front of some hotel.  These two gentlemen were attacking each other with flying fists and roundhouse swings.  It was a shame that the taxi driver couldn't stop to let me watch more of the spectacle.  

I have to say that I haven't seen so many street fights as I have in Wuxi.  Of course, coming from Canada, where people are few, conflict will be less.  But I still wonder if what I am seeing here is a sign of some of societal sickness.  I am going have to collect some statistics answering the question:  Is the proportion of street fights seen in Wuxi as a percentage of the total population greater than the proportion of street fights as a percentage of total population that one would see in Canada?

Anyway, here are some of the public physical conflicts I have seen:  Men attacking security guards and traffic cops.  A man running at a full sprint for 50 meters to administer a flying drop kick to someone.  People coming out of their car to attack the driver of a bus behind them.  Men swatting women.  To recall a few.

Monday: From the Shores of Taihu to the Halls of Montezuma?
Monday afternoon, I went to the part of Wuxi that is close to shores of Taihu.  It was very green with vegetation, and it had hills, and of course there was construction.  I told myself what a shame it was that I didn't go out to that part of Wuxi more often.

Jenny gets her Canadian Visa
One problem solved.  Booking flights and arranging transportation will be the next problem for the K family's odyssey to Canada.
Greyhounding it across Canada?
I am seriously considering the possibility to save money and let Jenny see the real Canada, from Left Coast to Center.  The question is will Tony be able to stand it?
Karl Marx
The students don't like him.  Hooray!

Saturday, I did an English Corner about Germany.  Asking the students who the third or fourth most famous Germans were, they said Karl Marx. The entire class said they hated him.  His theory was "outdated" they said.  
I had a more accurate word starting with "B" and ending with "T" that they could have used.

10 DVDs for 20 RMB
The movies:  Little Caesar starring Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; Cimarron starring Wesley Rupples; Arsenal: a film by Alexander Dovzhenko; Sullivan's Travels starring Veronica Lake; Come Back, Little Sheba starring Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth; Quo Vadis starring Peter Ustinov; Sergei Eisenstein's Strike; State of the Union starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy; Mr. Deeds goes to Town starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur; and I Know Where I'm Going! starring Michael Powell.

Tai Chi in the Darkness
Saturday Evening, I took Tony to a nearby public square where there is a canal for Tony to throw rocks in.  The place, though dark in the evening, is usually deserted, quiet, and very safe.

Imagine my surprise, when this Saturday Evening, I found that our secret spot was being used by a group of six people practicing Tai Chi.  
The plop, plop, plop of Tony's rocks hitting the canal surface would have disturbed them, so we had to find somewhere else to do rock plop rock plop.

Tesco Story
A neighbour, who can speak some English, told me she wasn't too happy with the service at the Tesco that has opened near our apartment complex.  It appears that the prices on the signs are not the same as the prices entered into the computer system.  She feels she is being cheated.  One time, a cosmetic product she bought was said to be 16 rmb for one bottle.  It was rung in as 19 rmb.  It then took her thirty minutes to return the product and get a refund.

Thinking myself happy
It is hard to do this sometimes.  The thoughts, the reasons, all valid, are there, but the body seems unwilling.  Which raises the question in my mind about the spirit.  How do I know I have the spirit with me battling the hard physical reality of sadness and/or numbness?

TS Eliot Quote

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it; or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

One person who is very guilty of this:  Reverend Wright's former parishioner. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friday Bloggings

The Coolness of Google Reader
I have been playing with the Google Reader feature that comes with my Google Account.  It is cool.  It is the best way I know to access all the things I want to read on one page.  Subscribe to any site you want, and their updates appear in the Reader. 
Sacrifice is Good
Happiness is living for others, someone said.  Taking this to heart, I tell myself that every sacrifice I make for Tony and Jenny is to be reveled in.  So no going to the bar?  Great!  Not satisfying some consumer urger of mine?  Even better!  No beer!  I have achieved sanctity!
A talent for isolation
That's what I am good at, I noticed, looking back on my life.  All those long weekends that I spent in Canada alone.  This is a bad thing?  I think of the people I haven't meet who may resemble the people I have meet and didn't care for.  But at the same time, everyone is not so bad.  
Ray Steiger
Watching him in Oklahoma!  I noticed he resembled Brando.  Then I watched On the Waterfront, and Steiger was cast as Brando's character's brother.  He is sitting beside Marlon as he said his famous "Could have been a contender" line.
What can I tell you?  Great Minds (the casters of OTW and I) think alike.
Expo Reviews
A Canadian living in Shanghai has gone to Expo twice.  She tells me she wasn't impressed.
Teaching Politics in Vocation School?
It seemed strange when I heard about it, but now, that I think about it, it makes sense.  I had a student, who was a teacher, tell me about her experiences teaching at a vocational school in Wuxi.  One of the classes she had to teach was politics.  She used a textbook supplied by the government filled with the political theories of Chairman Mao and his successors.  To me it seemed absurd.  
Could you imagine a trades school in Canada having a history  or political science department?  That lot of students would be bored out of their mind.  "Don't waste my time, teach us what we need to know!" 
Here, though, it is about the worker.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Wuxi, China is exciting #9 and #10

Watch here and here.

Funny Things I have seen in Wuxi

Hobo wearing High-Heel Purple Shoes
Monday Morning, I was on my way to work, and I saw a man picking through a public trash receptacle.  His mouth was full as he was chewing something and I shuddered to think about where he had found this something.  
I then saw him close the trash cover and go on his way.  He walked strangely and I then realized that he was wearing wearing women's purple shoes with a half-inch high heel, and so he looked, for all the world, like a woman hobo.  So strange was the sight that I actually saw the locals raise their eyes.
Visa Problems
Of course, We didn't submit all the required paperwork for Jenny's Visa.  Jenny had to go to Shanghai again on Wednesday to drop off my Passport and paperwork from my work.  When we went to Shanghai the first time, we did present my passport to them but they didn't take it!

Why Wuxi, China is exciting #8

Watch it here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time for a change of approach

It is time to shake things up at AKIC.  For too long, I have given too much importance to making a daily entry to this blog.  I have been doing this at the expense of my family, my work, and ultimately the quality of this blog.  This will have to stop.  Quality daily entries just aren't possible anymore (as if they ever were!).  Time has come for me to stop the daily blog habit and restrict myself to two or three entries a week.  

Recently, I published an entry so full of grammar and editing errors that I was embarrassed.  I realized then that I was going to have to work harder on every word I publish in this blog.  Writing too hastily to fill a daily requirement, instead of taking my time to make my thoughts comprehensible, is a bad approach to blogging.  

I now take the attitude that it is better to say nothing than to say anything, and to think long and hard before I do hit the publish (or send) button.  As well, I will not immediately publish an entry after I revise.  I will return to it after an hour and decide then whether to publish or not.

So, expect fewer, but better blog entries.

I will however continue to publish my Tony blog daily -- it is only a photo blog anyway.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More Exciting Video taken in Wuxi, China

Watch it here.

Video of Jenny picking up Tony

Watch it here.

Electric Bicycles All Chained Up

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Saturday Walk to the Bus Stop

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Fireworks on my street

Watch it here.

High School Diploma to work in McDonalds?

I asked a student what he thought of the service in McDonalds.  He said it was good because unlike other restaurants where all you need is Middle School completion to work, McDonalds requires its' workers to have High School Diplomas.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tony goes to preschool

Watch it here.

Who's phoning me?

The rule one should follow, and that others, when phoning you , should be aware is this: don't answer calls where the number is unknown to you -- often they are wrong numbers or scams.  Now the Canadian Consulate doesn't follow this rule.  They never first send a message saying they are going to phone you, even when you request them to.  So if you are in that situation where they may be phoning you, you find yourself answering all calls.

We are currently in this situation with Jenny's visa application.  Jenny told me she answered the phone today and got a recording saying "Down with the People's Republic of China!".  "How can they do that?' she asked.

Interesting times we are living in.

Tony at a Shanghai Subway Stop.

See it here.

Body on the road

Was she hit or was she acting?
Taking the #610 bus to work, I pass an area that is like a downtown street but under an elevated highway.  The highway divides the road so that if you want to get to the other side, you either drive a kilometer to turn around, or you drive the wrong way down the street -- it makes for many near collisions, since the road is about two lanes wide each way and many cars are parked so effectively there is one lane and narrow each way.  At the end of this of section of road, I have send many a car exit what is supposed to be an entrance ramp.
I don't know if the incident I witnessed was a result of this not well-thought traffic arrangement, but I did see a woman lying on the road Thursday morning.  She may have been hit in a collision or she may have been lying purposely in protest.  She was lying face up, her arms at her side like she was at attention -- I saw no blood but a consternated policeman and a crowd.  No one was giving first aid to the lady.  She may have been trying for the large quickie payout -- a way in which these collisions are often resolved.
Expo Fears
Many of the students are not enthusiastic about going to the Expo because of the crowds and the summer heat.  At least, this is the general opinion I got from discussing it in a recent Speakers' Corner.
Summer Heat
I am now wearing short-sleeve shirts.  Thursday, I experienced the dropping of sweat from my brow.  Summer is effectively here in Wuxi.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thoughts and Anecdotes from the Shanghai visitation

Nearby the Canadian Visa Application Centre are similar operations for Belgium, Italy, and India.  Jenny noticing the Belgium centre remarked that no one seemed there and asked me what this why so.  Telling her where Belgium was, I added that no one wants to go to Belgium.
Near the Visa application centres is a artsy quarter with a few galleries and souvenir shops.  One of the galleries contained Warhol-like iconic paintings of Chairman Mao and President Obama.  I wish I could have taken a photo of this but alas, I couldn't.  The paintings side-by-side as they were said a lot to me.  Obama is not Mao or a Communist but that is only because he is in the USA.
Getting to the VAC
We took a bus, then a train, then the subway, and finally a taxi to get there.
If you love men in uniform then Shanghai is the place for you.  I noticed increased security arrangements because of the Expo.  Every subway station has an X-ray machine.  Every subway station also has a nice collection of men in green uniforms -- the PLA,  I presume.
The author of the Black Swan has done his third Econ Talk podcast recently. (Link is in the headline)  I downloaded the latest episode as well as the previous three he had done and gave them a listen as I was wandering about the Shang.

An anecdote Taleb told reminded me of a conversation I had on a similar theme.  Talking to a bunch of government bureaucrat economists, he told them that their activity was futile -- they couldn't predict diddley squat given the complexity of the economy.  The government economists asked what they should do then -- if they had any honesty, they should have quit their jobs.

I had a conversation with someone who thought government building passenger trains was a good idea.  Telling him that most of these projects were a load of bullocks because they lessen people's transportation options instead of increasing them and were consistent money losers, this someone said do you want the government to do nothing?  Well, I would say that they should do a lot less than they do.
Encounter with Expo visitor on train
My wife was talking to a gentleman who went to the Expo on Wednesday.  He wasn't too impressed.  He said the long waits in the humidity were torturous

I plan on going to Expo in September when the weather is nicer and the problems are worked out.
Ripping button earns wife's wrath
The wife wasn't too impressed with me after I had ripped a button off one of Tony's top.  The buttons were metal so I thought they were snap-ons.  A great yank and I had Tony's top undone.


Wuxi Tony Updates #571 to #573 on Yahoo!

Wuxi Tony Update #571:  Tony in Shanghai

The K Family goes to Shanghai

We went to Shanghai Wednesday -- but not for the Expo. Jenny submitted her visa application.

You can view a whole lot more photos from our day in Shanghai, here.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Shanghai and Rain

Tony, Jenny, and Andis will go to Shanghai today (Wednesday) to make the visa application.
They are going by train.
The weather, if it is a portent, isn't good -- it is wet and windy in the morn.

Andis Bloggings in China

Shanghai on Wednesday
We go to the Canada Visa Center on Wednesday.  We won't be going anywhere near the Expo if we can help.  The wife will buy train tickets on Tuesday -- hopefully, the Expo doesn't make this impossible.  I haven't been in Shanghai in the longest while -- haven't had any reason to go.

Yu Pai Fu Hao on Monday
Jenny, Tony and I went to the Sichuan Restaurant across from our school for lunch.  It was yummy.  A plate of peanuts and whatever my wife ordered and I was happy!

Chicago Boy in the office
With the Canucks playing the Black Hawks in an NHL quarterfinal series (conference semifinal my ass!), the two teachers at my school who come from the lower mainland (Vancouver) look forward to being able to lay brooms and coffins and severed heads on the Illinois boy's desk.

We're looking for a trainer
We need to replace a trainer who is leaving near the end of May.  If you are interested in teaching drop me an email at

The Tea Leaf Eggs
I was supposed to be having my wife's delicious tea leaf eggs for supper, but I twice forgot to take them with me.  The first time in the morning, I forgot to put them in my bag at home -- that was no problem, my wife was coming downtown anyway.

She remembered to bring the eggs with her.  When we finished our meal at Yu Pai Fu Hao, my wife handed the eggs to me so that they were actually in my hands, but a complication arose.  I was to carry Tony as I accompanied her to the bus stop. So, I decided to give the eggs back to my wife to hold until I got to the bus stop.  There, we waited for the bus and when it arrived, I watched them board.  Just as the bus took off and I was waving goodbye to Jenny and Tony, I saw my wife pull the eggs out of her bag and show them to me.

Tesco Food Court Tuesday
The Kaulins Family went to the Food court at the Tesco near to Casa K.  Father Kaulins had the fried beef rice and slim cut potatoes fried with green peppers.  Mother Kaulins had fish with shrimp and egg fried rice.
Gmail Trouble
The trouble I was having with my Google account has been solved.  Finally, a verification code sent to my mobile phone worked.  Apparently, these was some suspicious activity on my account which caused it to be locked.
This entry which is a day old can finally be posted.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Another Evening Walk with Tony Boy

Whenever Jenny, Tony's Mom, is busy, I try to get Tony out of her hair.  Sunday Evening, I took advantage of the warm weather to get Tony out of the house.  Tony and I walked to the nearby Tesco where he rode the one rmb amusement rides.  At the parlour, Tony was an item of interest for the girls working there.  They asked me all the usual questions about his age, his nationality, and his sex -- the latter question befuddled me. 
One of the rides I put Tony on was an airplane type where the plane was attached to a automatic lever that caused the plane to rise, fall, and spin about.  Tony didn't care for the ride and wanted to be pulled off -- it scared him.
He then did an surprising thing.  The girl was peppering me with questions when all-of-a-sudden Tony grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the amusement parlour.  It has been his habit to have to be dragged out by his parents.  It was the first time to see the tables turned, and why Tony needed to leave was a mystery.  Outside the parlour, I put Tony in my arms and we walked around Tesco.
We walked about Tesco not buying anything except a Pepsi which we shared on the way back home.
We walked through the Public Square -- the local People's square, as it were to get home.  Nothing could be finer I thought than to walk in a huge and deserted public square on a comfortable night with your son.  With Tony growing so fast, and I ageing even faster, these moments are precious and can't be easily replicated.  He clings to me now, but there will be times when he won't want to be caught dead next to me.

He eventually fell asleep which meant it was time to return home.   Back home, Tony was very clingy.  Thinking he was fully asleep, I tried to get away, but almost like he had one eye opened all the time, he protested in a "where do you think you are going?" manner.  My return quietened him.

May Two Day

Back to Work already
I have been telling the students about the wonders of long weekends which many have because of the May Day holiday (many workers are getting Monday off).   I don't have a long weekend myself because I do have to work Sunday and Monday. 
Not the I am complaining because when I think of the long weekends I endured in Canada -- three days of nothing to do, and feeling guilty about it, I need work and family to keep me properly occupied.
Many other workers here don't have a long weekend either.  I saw construction workers, on the track for the new fast train, hard at it in the unbearable sun.
Shade and Short Sleeves
The weather has turned hot in Wuxi.  Friday, I found myself seeking shade as I walked to work.  Today, I will be wearing short sleeves for the first time in 2010.
My son Tony falls asleep on May Day
It was a crazy day with him, this May Day.
Why do they need to know where I went to school?
The visa application process for Jenny is enough to throw us into despair.   Jenny was working through the forms she needs to fill out when she asked me why they needed to know what school she graduated from.  I assumed that she was mistaken looking at requirements for Chinese students studying in Canada, but when I looked at the forms I saw that she was correct.  Now she is worried that she won't be able to give a proper English name for the college she graduated from.  And I looked like an idiot for thinking her wrong about something.
Crazy as yesterday was with Tony, I was able to read a short bio about Kierkegaard.  This bio that was written by Malcom Muggeridge made K a compelling figure for me whose works I must now read.  K, according to M, was a definite outsider in his society and yet was able to have the most profound, spiritual, and prophetically accurate observations about the world.