Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
After 26 hours of being in cars, in buses, in airplanes, in airports, in security lines, waiting to claim baggage, and and going through customs, The K family arrived at Chinese Casa K about 700 pm, Monday.
Later, at about 200 am, Andis was awoken by Tony jumping on him.
The hardest part of trying to get the adult bodies of the K family on Wuxi time was Tony's seeming unawareness of the need to do so.
Tuesday 300 am, Tony was watching television.
Wednesday 530 am, the whole K family is up and at 'em!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
The K Family, Chinese Edition, is going back to Winnipeg Friday afternoon so as to attend a BBQ on Saturday afternoon and catch an early Sunday morning flight to Vancouver where they will link up with a flight to Shanghai.
Andis may not be able to access the Internet in Winnipeg so this could be the last made-in-Canada blog entry. He will leave you with these few observations till he gets back to China or can access a computer in Winnipeg:
- The sun goes down awfully late in Brandon because they do the switching of hours back and forth an hour through the year. It really stuns Jenny that it is nine p.m. here and the sun is still up. It is a little disorientating for someone who has spent six years or all their life in China
- Tony woke up Friday in a chipper mood.
- Stuff I collected in my youth is over 30 years old, I discovered when I rummaged through the attic.
- Andis has about 990,000 views on his Youtube channel. It doesn't look like he will hit the million mark till he gets back to China.
- Wendy's had a very depressing atmosphere when I went in to have a double cheeseburger with no onions.
- Harmony everywhere. In Canada, they talk of the Harmonized Sales Tax. Hu Jiantao has his Harmonious Countryside.
- Beer in Polish is Piya; beer in Chinese is pijiu.
- Packing Decisions! Arrgh!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Back to Winnipeg on Friday
The K Family, Chinese version, will go back to Winnipeg on Friday. Andis will drive the seemingly interminable trip between Winnipeg and Brandon.
The Mosquitoes don't bother Tony
Tony has been spending his time watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Youku,com, and running around outside, sometimes chasing the cat. Andis is having a hard time dealing with the mosquitoes, which apparently are worse than usual because there has been an abnormal amount of rain. Tony, though, is nonplussed, except when he is left by himself. If Andis retreats inside to get away from the squiters, Tony gets mad. And so Andis has to stay outside.
Mom uses the word "creep".
I use the word a lot. But to hear my mother use the word in reference to someone was eye-opening.
I can't say who, suffice to say it isn't anyone we have seen on the Odyssey.
Jenny puts me to shame
When it comes to family, Jenny puts me to shame. She has been wonderful in dealing with all the relatives. I, on the other hand, have been distracted and thoughtless.
Tony hums a Latvian tune
In China, we did teach Tony a few words from a Latvian lullaby that I recalled from childhood. Tony has been singing that song all the time here in Brandon. I wonder if it is because he is doing a tribute of sorts to his grandparents.
The World Cup
I have been able to watch the games at civilized times in the morning and early afternoons.
The American goal against Algeria caused me to yell aloud. I am pleased to see that America and England have made it through the first round.
France's troubles have been a source of amusement. I read somewhere about the French minister of sport trying to intervene in the team's disarray -- that is seen as incumbent on the government to try to get its' team to do better at a mere game is both hilarious and sad for a country that prides itself on being so rational.
I read a column by an Englishman wanting England to lose to Slovenia because he saw it as a way to indict the rule of Margaret Thatcher. That English Football was crappy in the 70s before Thatcher even came to power was a fact that the columnist choose to ignore. Of course if England somehow manages to win this World Cup, the columnist will find a way to credit the Labour Party for it.
CIBC, a national bank in Canada, has been sponsoring the coverage of the World Cup on a Canadian national t.v. network. It says that it has found supporters for all 32 countries among its' employees. Who is supporting North Korea? I ask.
Coca Cola is running a contest where the winner gets to take a trip to the country that wins the World Cup. What would happen in North Korea won? I ask.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
- A garter snake.
- A man wearing suspenders.
- A dirt road with a speed limit of 90 km/h.
- Obesity 2.0.
- Walmart greeters.
- Hutterites (or were they Mennonites?).
- A rainbow.
- Yellow School Buses (though I don't remember them having flashing lights on the roof before).
- A deer.
- A skunk.
- A government liquor store (Boo!).
- Cars with Manitoba rust patterns.
- Lots of white trash.
- Canadian Soldiers.
- Senior Citizens driving cars.
- Push Lawn Mowers.
- Purolator Delivery Trucks.
- Big pickup trucks.
- Lack of security.
- Four way stops.
- Three way stops.
- Parking meters.
- Used book stores.
- Newspaper dispensing machines.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
For me, the AKIC 2010 Canadian Odyssey has been about eating; for Jenny, AKIC 2010 C.O. has been about shopping.
I have reacquainted myself with some old favorites like Tim Horton's donuts, cottage cheese, A&W Mozza Burgers, Canadian Chinese food, toasted bagels with cream cheese (which Jenny has taken a liking to), Smarties (which Tony has taken such a liking to that it has become a pacifier for his parents), Spitz brand sunflower seeds, and the Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait. All are as good as I remembered except for the DQ treat which I found too rich to enjoy (Jenny bought a medium sized chocolate ice cream sundae from DQ and found it so large, rich, and sweet she couldn't a quarter of it).
Jenny finds the shopping in Canada to be so interesting that it is hard for us to pull her from the stores. She has been to London Drugs, Zellers, Walmart, Safeway, Real Canadian Superstore, Dollarama, and Canadian Tire. She finds the prices to be expensive for those on a Chinese salary, but the selection to be amazing.
Personally, I found going into a Walmart in Chilliwack for the first time in over five years to be wonderful. Locals would say the store was nothing special which shows how Canadians take their affluence for granted. One such Walmart in Wuxi would be a godsend for this Wuxi expat.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Circuit City, Polo Park
Mentioning I was living in China, I was asked by the clerk what it was like there. I told him how, in some ways, there is more freedom in China. The clerk nodding at this, talked about the proclivities of Canadian government to increase their control of the population, citing a new law being passed to ban the use of cell phones in cars. He then talked about the increased use of photo radar in Winnipeg, telling me cameras were being placed in areas where people do inadvertently speed, like just after leaving construction zones -- victim less crimes. I told him of a cab driver I read about in the lower mainland of Vancouver getting a 1150 dollar fine because he picked up a cop pretending to be a frantically waving customer. The driver was fined for picking up someone out of his zone or whatever nonsense regulation. In China, I told the clerk, you can much more easily find a driver -- there being a transport network not controlled by the government.
The True North Strong and Fee!
In Brandon, I saw a man dressed with a black cowboy hat, black t-shirt, black pants, and black cowboy boots.
Other people were wearing shorts and sandals.
Jenny's view of the drive from Brandon to Winnipeg
I have frequently described the drive from Brandon to Winnipeg to my students in China. I have told them how flat and unpopulated is the land between the two biggest cities in Manitoba. Now, one of them: Jenny, can say she has seen it.
My immediate personal sensation was how quickly boredom set in on the two hour drive. At first, seeing the big sky and flatness of the terrain for the first time in years was great, but after 45 minutes the drive began to wear on me. Jenny's opinions of it kept the drive interesting.
To her the land seemed like the wild. Where can people go shopping? she asked. She also observed that it must be easy to kill someone and get rid of the body in the area.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Now, the Kaulins Family: Tony, Jenny, and Andis are in Brandon, a city of 40,000 or so in in Western Manitoba. Tony's grandparents have now seen their grandson in person.
Andis has access to a computer so he will be able to post lots of video and photos.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
So much to say but I will have to wait till I get to Manitoba where I am sure to have some quiet time to blog.
I went to Vancouver Monday to get Tony's Chinese visa and the visa office was a zoo -- it was so busy! That experience, and there was some lady at a photo place who damn near screwed up my paperwork by telling me that Tony had to do some other thing -- the end result was Jenny didn't care so much for Vancouver.
I hadn't planned to go to Van but the travel agencies here in Chilliwack wouldn't do Tony's visa. There was a change in the process, they said.
A cord I need to upload my photos and videos has been misplaces. Till I find it, no video and photos. Arrghhh!!!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Leaving June 10
We take a bus, early Thursday morning, that will takes us from the Wuxi Bus station to the Shanghai Pudong Airport to catch a China Eastern flight to Vancouver.
T.P. was 10.5 rmb. I only had a tenner. The storekeepers told me they knew (renshi) my wife, and not to worry about it.
The wife wants to get a car because she never gets a seat on the bus, even when she carries Tony. I, being the foreigner, always have a seat yielded to me when I carry Tony.
Walking with Tony on Tuesday night, the neighbour seeing us, gave me a cigarette.
I must remember to reciprocate.
Are there any adult Wuxi Expats?
I ask this after reading an article, expressing an observation, I have had, that actors and actresses in Old Hollywood movies look like adults, while adult-aged actors, these days, look like teenagers.
Thinking of James Dean, I recall how I thought it strange that he played a teenager in his films, because he looked like an adult. These days, if he was his death age, he would most certainly be cast as a thirty or forty year old.
Going to Canada, I can watch World Cup matches at a decent hour. I think.
He strongly expresses the opinions of the other side. But most of what he says is easily put aside -- Keynesian nonsense.
I now know someone who has seen an Ipad.
What I want to get while in Canada
- Books: Flannery O'Connor, Evelyn Waugh, JR Tolkien, Heinlein, and Dune.
- Some Crown Royal and Coke.
Is Tony excited about going to Canada?
Tony has no idea he is going on a trip.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
There are lots of government buildings near our apartment. Every once in a while, I have seen a citizen staging a sit-down protest or demonstration by security gates in front of these buildings.
On Wednesday, I saw a man, his crutches lying on the ground beside him, staging such a demonstration. The guards looked at him with annoyance -- they had to do some work. And a crowd was gathering.
I don't know how the stand-off was resolved.
Themes for the 2010 AKIC Canadian Odyssey
In the spirit of the 2010 Shanghai Expo, with its theme of "Better City, Better Life", I have made a list of possible themes for our June 2010 Odyssey to Canada:
- I didn't get a cheap sex-change operation!
- I don't know how much a sex-change operation is!
- Mmm! Beer!
- My lungs are fine.
- Sorry! I have been away in China for nearly six years!
- Look at all the Laowai!
- Wow! Solid construction!
- Wow! What attention to detail!
- A Wuxiren surveys the Great White North.
- Mmmm! Bread and bacon and smarties and crunchie bars and cottage cheese and Crown Royal and....
- Returning to the Big Quiet
- Blue Skies!
- My! How you have grown!
- Nothing changes!
- Ignorant Buffoon! That is why I moved to China!
- Meeting Old Latvians.
- Who is our P.M.?
- Better Food. Better Life.
Our plane for Vancouver leaves Thursday, June 10th.
Why Lady Gaga is like a duck
The students think of the current pop fashion queen as being something of a duck. For in China, ducks go "ga ga!". In the west, ducks go "quack quack!".
They know not what the words on their shirts say
I saw an old women board the bus. She was wearing a shirt with sentences, emblazoned thereon, about the latest punk street fashion.
A Chinese Road to Damascus?
No such stories in Chinese legend and history, if what the students said when I asked about it in a recent English Corner is true.
I was told that converts from the KMT to the C's in the civil war would have been shot, by the C's.
New Mosquito-killing Racket
The one that my wife just bought is really deluxe. It comes with a light. Soon, it will be an application for the Ipad.
East of Eden
I bought the DVD for this movie for two rmb at Nanchang Market. The trouble with this movie is that it stars James Dean, which is paradoxically why I watched it. Dean certainly was good-looking although his face does reflect the hardness of growing up in the thirties and forties. But I don't know what to make of his acting. In a way he was performing, not acting -- if you understand my distinction (he was showing off; not depicting). At its time, I am sure his performance was different; now, it seems dated, like Freud.
Walking with Tony, I find I am not interested in chatting with passers-by who want to ask all sorts of questions about Tony. The questions are all the same.
And the beautiful girls that take an interest in Tony -- I don't know what to say to them.
A look of contempt
Man turning his van near us gives Tony and me a look that seemed to be other than curiosity.
The world is full of yahoos.
I was listening to a recent podcast from Econtalk about psychiatry. Psychiatry like Economics is in the midst of an existential crisis. People wonder what practical things these two fields have to offer the world. Both seem to be verging on pseudo-scientific by pretending to make empirical and measurable observations about what is ultimately subjective and non-isolatable.
Psych and Econ have both influenced and concerned me. I studied, if you could call whatever it was I was doing, Economics at University of Winnipeg. I also wasted years thinking I was suffering from depression when really I was reacting, naturally but pathetically, to some mediocre circumstances. I took anti-depressants because it was a fashion. It was only Rush Limbaugh and a hard-headed Irish cousin who saved me from a life of imagined neuroses and being an armchair Keynesian hoping for more help from the government.
I just finished reading the Journey to the West on pdf: 1400 pages, a chapter a day. The book ends with these lines:
Let anyone who sees or hears
Cherish the enlightened mind.
May all be reborn in the Land of Bliss,
To end this present life of retribution.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Happy Birthday to my aunt Ritma, who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I look forward to seeing her in a couple weeks. I look forward as well to her being able to meet my wife and son for the first time.
Clint Eastwood recently celebrated his 80th birthday. Now, I am not exactly sure how old Ritma is, but like Clint she is getting on in years. And like the Clint we see on screen , she is unflappable. Although, she doesn't have his mean streak.