Saturday, December 31, 2011

At midnight....

  • The K family was all in the Casa K living room.  A New Year's Eve television show featuring pop stars was on the television.
  • Daddy K was still reeling in horror from having seen Avril Lavigne perform on a Chinese Television show.  He was shamed to be Canadian.  What a horrible performance! thought Daddy K who thanked his lucky stars he was old to follow Pop music.
  • Tony K was playing on the Ipad.  He said "Happy New Year!" when coaxed.  He took his attention away from the Ipad to watch the New Year's countdown.  The fireworks display at the stroke of midnight amazed him.
  • Jenny K sat beside Tony.  She received kisses from both her boys a little after the stroke of midnight.
  • None of the K's sang Auld Lang Syne.

Wuxi mayor sacked?

A student mentioned something happening to the mayor of Wuxi during my last English Corner of 2011.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Some end-of-the-year random thingie-wingies

  • Western--December 31ish--New Year's isn't a big deal in China.  None of the students have told me that they would be doing anything interesting that evening.  They get primed for the Lunar New Year.
  • We have a Japanese student.  Yes!  I hope he likes baseball so that I can tell him of my hatred of the MLB wildcard.
  • I love Jenny's new hairdo, but she is having second thoughts.
  • I am not going to do anything special on New Year's Eve.  I will hang out at home with Tony and Jenny.  The boys will admire Mom's new hairdo!!
  • Divisions of people in Wuxi.  They divide on long lines of income, their liking of KTV, their liking of basketball, whether they are Wuxi locals or not, their liking of computer games, and their keenness of school study.
  • For the first time I had a student who goes to the gym to workout.  I asked him why his type -- Chinese who work out -- seemed so rare.  He said they were too busy doing other things.
  • Someone else says he isn't going to a pub on New Year's Eve.
  • Someone told me that after eating street food, he was having strange dreams.
  • If you want to find out who AKIC's 2011 Wuxi Expat of the year is, you can visit here or here.
  • One of my students says he is doing inventory on New Year's Eve.  I told him that while others will be counting 5,4,3,2,1, he will be counting 1,2,3,4,5,....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bumper Cars in Wuxi, China

Where's Jesus?

The Christian Church, near my school, put a curious sign about its main entrance.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wuxi Tony opens his first ever Christmas Present

Recent Photos of Andis and Jenny





Who will be the 2011 Wuxi Expat of the Year?

For regular readers of my blogs, this should be a no-brainer.

Still, I will hold you in suspense.

Who will win the coveted 2011 AKIC Wuxi Expat of the Year award?  Previous winners have been President Barack Obama (2009)  and my son Tony Kaulins (2010).

You will want to be the first on your block to learn to news, so visit this blog frequently over the next week or so.  I will not give your the exact time and date of the announcement.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Birthday

  • December 24th is my birthday.  I tell myself to be reticent about the fact.  So, other than to my son and to my rare readers, I haven't mentioned it.  
  • But by mentioning it here, I am making a confession of sorts.  It is a struggle to not think about it.  If I said it didn't matter to me that it was my birthday, I would be lying.  And yet I know I should shut up.
  • Here is an interesting birthday tribute to me on my WCE Blog.  Thanks Harry!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pre-Christmas Random Observations

  • Merry Christmas to the rare readers of this blog.  Christmas in China is better in the sense that it doesn't overwhelm one.  However, the forlorn feelings that the holiday gives one are still as intense as they would be if one were in the West.
  • I was adding on Trains, Cars, and Routes to my Microsoft Train Simulator (MSTS as those who like this sort of thing call it) on my last weekend before Christmas.  It was all to make Tony happy.  Now, Tony can choose from jet-engine trains and boats to run on all the routes.
  • I saw a report somewhere on the Internet that atheists are doing ads depicting happy atheist families.  Wonderful!  I thought.  The atheists are trying to tell us they are really like Mormons.
  • Confucius say "He who farts in church, sits in pew."  Will some people find that joke offensive?  I find it a cute play on words myself.
  • I hate stop-and-chats (that is term I picked up from Curb Your Enthusiasm).  I am so used to just listening to my podcasts and thinking my irate thoughts, that running in somebody throws me off my routine.
  • What to do if students give one-word answers.  I make a sentence for them that they need to respond to with a full sentence.  e.g. Do you have a girlfriend?  If they say just "no!", I will then suggest that they have two or three girlfriends.  To which they will often respond, in a full sentence, that they don't have a girlfriend.
  • Having to put on a Santa Claus costume, I take on an intense hating for Santa Claus.  The Birth of Jesus story would make for more interesting costumes, I think.
  • What to do Christmas Day?  My wife Jenny wants to go for a nice meal at some restaurant.  I prefer to stay home but then Jenny would have to do some cooking, and I don't want to burden her.  But the thought of getting out of the house and taking a bus downtown is a burden as well.  I like the idea of Tony and I playing with the train set and the compter trains on Christmas Day.
  • The school will take us to a hotel on the evening of December 23 for a Christmas Dinner.  Jenny and Tony won't be accompanying me, so I will be free, but I will surely have to deal with questions asking about their absence.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Photos taken in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi, China: December 19, 2011

After I had to take Tony to kindergarten yesterday, I walked back to Casa K.

I took the photos below. You can see the progress of Subway Construction on Hui Shan Da Dao, and the looming towers of the Olympic Park Apartments.






Sunday, December 18, 2011

My last weekend before Christmas

  • Not much Christmas shopping going on in Wuxi, China -- that is the impression I get from asking the students.
  • Employees at Carrefour, I learned, have already had their annual Chinese New Year company dinner.  They have to because CNY is a busy time for them!
  • A man tells me that his wife asked for a divorce after their daughter was born with congenital heart problems.  He looks after the child but has to pay 25 percent of his salary to his wife.  Sad.
  • My favorite article by Christopher Hitchens had to be one he wrote about partisanship -- he was for it. If I remember correctly, he said politics was meant to be partisan and there was no point in holding back in discussions.  I believe, he saw, like I did that talk of bi-partisanship these days has the stench of authoritarianism associated with it.
  • The World is all that is the case.  What does that mean?  What does Wittgenstein mean by the World?  Does he mean the Universe?  Was does case mean?  Does case mean all that is, i.e. reality?  Does Wittgenstein mean that the Universe is all there is?
  • Good riddance!  Someone, I loathe, is leaving Wuxi.  He was the classic transient worker, the teacher who was a body but not much else.  He couldn't show up on time for work if his life depended on it.  It wouldn't surprise me if he was returning to his Native country to take part in a Occupy movement.  It is about all he is good for.  I hope, for the sake of people who don't come to Wuxi to lie to everyone and anyone with an ounce of deceny, that he isn't late for his plane.
  • I overslept Monday morning.  I had to wake up early to get Tony on his way to school.  Because I slept late, I had to take Tony to a bus stop and accompany him to his kindergarten, instead of just putting him in the van that would have taken him there.  The bus took forever to come, and it was standing room only when it did. 
  • It was interesting for me to observe Tony at the Kindergarten.  When we got to the school gate, Tony took off his backpack, opened it and put a toy car, he had been carrying, in it.  He knows enough now to put his stuff away.  He then lead me to his classroom.  Entering it, he knew where to put to his backpack.  Tony ran into the class -- a foreigner teacher was doing his thing -- Tony grabbed an empty chair and ran happily to his place.  It surprises me how quickly babies become their own person and become socialized.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It isn't cold cold

  • It isn't really that cold in Wuxi these days.  It is cold enough for me to wear long underwear, but I fear I may be overdoing it with my fake Anapurna Jacket.  I find myself wishing it was another five degrees Celsius colder.
  • Christopher Hitchens has died.  I got this news from another trainer at school who then asked if I had heard of him.  I told him I had of course, and how I had read many of his books, sought out his writings on the Internet, and listened to him speak on many a podcast.  Hitchens, was a guy I agreed with about fifty percent of the time.  I wished he could have repudiated his previous Leftism more strongly.  I wished he wasn't such a rabid atheist.  Still, he was a guy you wish was on your side of any intellectual debate.  He supported the Iraq war as I did.  He saw Bill Clinton for what he was: a liar and a rapist.  He saw the vacuity of Obama's 2008 election campaign.  I wonder about his legacy.  He never wrote a classic book despite being a great writer.  His contradictions will always cloud the way many people look at him.  I can appreciate the many who hated him through and through.  But yet, I am with the many who admire him with reservations.
  • A student who I tried to teach on Friday evening told me he had just recently become a father.  I spent some time asking him about the details of his son's birth.  I learned that he wasn't at the hospital when his son was born.  His wife was in his hometown while he was working in Wuxi.  He heard that his wife was in labour about nine p.m.  She gave birth about six a.m. the next morning.  Hearing the news, the student immediately took leave from work.  He took a bus to his hometown -- the ride was five hours.  Try to imagine what it would be like to take a five hour bus ride to see your son for the first time!  I would be pushing the bus to make it go faster, or saying "screw this!  the bus is too slow!", and running to my hometown.  The student's wife was in his hometown so she could be looked after by his mother.  The student will be seeing his son once a month now that his maternity leave is over -- that I would find hard to take.
  • Podcasts I have listened to twice.  You make think of Marc Steyn as an arch right-winger -- not that I think that there is anything wrong with that.  But he does do these excellent podcasts about music that can be found on his website.  I have repeatedly listened to these two podcasts (part 1 and part 2) he has made about Hugh Martin who composed the song "Have yourself a merry Christmas!" -- Steyn manages to get Bob Dylan, Twisted Sister, and Judy Garland into the same podcast.  Steyn's taste in music is wide and wise, without being too snotty.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I suddenly remembered it was Frank Sinatra's birthday! Interesting Links!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What food is sour? No change in style? A fight of sorts.

  • Andis:  "What food is sour?"  Student:  "Potatoes!"
  • Tony and I had a fight.  We made up. Tony said he was sorry.  I said I was sorry.  We hugged each other.
  • This article I have come across is interesting.  The writer, Kurt Anderson, offers the observation that cultural appearances, which usually change dramatically every twenty years, haven't changed so dramatically recently.  Compare the dress of people in 1991 with 2011 and they don't look all that different,  and their cars look the same as well.  Try doing that with 1955 and 1975, and you would think that the author has a point.  
  • Thinking of popular music, the bands I liked from the late eighties and early nineties, Morrissey and New Order, don't look or sound dated now.  (I also remember thinking that Nirvana represented the the beginning of the end for my following pop music closely.  Nirvana didn't seem all that original and their popularity was an annoyance to me.)  My thoughts about alternative bands made me inclined to read what the author had to say.  
  • Kurt Anderson also offered the observation that all that the new tech devices that we have make us more nostalgic.  They do make me more nostalgic because it is now so easy for me to find the things I couldn't get in the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s like music videos.  I find I love to watch video and film of the NFL and the NHL before 1980.  I love watching all the old movies.  But this just might be due to my age.  I talked to a recent twenty-something who told me she didn't know who the Marx brothers were -- the young set is particularly nostalgic as far as I can see. (Could it be that the younger generations's creativity is being focused on their portable devices and less on their clothing?)  I bet she probably hadn't heard of Love and Rockets either.
  • This superficial resemblance between now and twenty years ago is what Anderson calls the first paradox.
  • Anderson, unfortunately, then tried to make the same observations about politics and showed himself to be a leftist by showing his misunderstanding of the Tea Party:  And, although the Tea Partiers began by nominally re-enacting the pre-Revolutionary early 1770s, they were actually performing a cover version of the New Left's would-be-pre-revolutionary late 1960s.  Really?  I would say in a sarcastic tone.  Anderson then said that Reagan wanted to take America back to the 1950s and talked about the economy having flat-lined in the last twenty years.  Nonsense!
  • Anderson then states what he sees as the second paradox.  The paralysis in style-change has been accompanied by an interest in being stylish.  He says that people are more interested in style than ever.  This of course contradicts his observation that the economy has flat-lined.  In China, people, I observe, are very style-obsessed because they are wealthier.  
  • Anderson then wonders if this "style stagnation" is because of economic factors.  Forces that be in the style-industry have grown so big that it is now awfully expensive for them to redo themselves.  Really?
  • Anderson then ends his article hoping some kind of dramatic change is in the wake.  Although he feels the stagnation will continue.
  • Anderson's article ultimately is one man's view, and like most cultural-observation articles, his is full of casual observations and superficial reasonings that one has to only think about for thirty seconds to discover their self-contradictions.  For instance, people didn't wear so many tattoos twenty years ago as they do now.  His views about politics, are too embedded in Leftism, to be useful.  But putting that aside, I do think some of his observations about style are correct.  
  • So why is this so?  Humans can only take so much change at once, is about all I can say.  And perhaps the population is older. 
  • Perhaps, I shouldn't wade in Macro-cultural observations.
  • A non-American person: "Those Americans spell tyre t-i-r-e!  They do things backwards!"  Me:  "No!  If they did it backwards, they would spell it e-r-i-t!  And besides who spells tire t-y-r-e?"
  • Tony and I had another fight.  This time it was about the train set.  Tony pointed to a PLA RAIL box and a picture of a particular train setup or track configuration.  I then started to dismantle the current track configuration and Tony became upset.  I continued dismantling because I thought that Tony's wailing would subside when he would see me put together another configuration.  But it didn't.  Tony only became more upset when I started to make a new one.  He then began to rip apart the track of the new configuration.  Annoyed, I helped him and put it the track in the plastic box in which we store his PLA RAIL things.  I asked him if this was what he wanted.  He said no!  I held him in my arms for above ten minutes trying to soothe and calm him down.  I eventually took the track out of the plastic box and tried to make another configuration, but the same scenario happened.  This time, I told Tony to tell his mom his complaint -- he can speak a lot of Chinese that I don't understand.  She told me that he told her he wanted me to make a new configuration for him.  Telling Jenny that that what was what I was trying to do didn't do anything to lower the contempt she had for me at that moment.
  • Actually, the second incident really wasn't a fight.  I did nothing aggressive towards Tony.  I just let him wail.  I even withdrew from him at one point to see what he would do.
  • During the withdrawal, I was hoping to see Tony run to me.  What did happen was he continued to cry and I couldn't stand it and so went back to him.
  • It took Mom giving him a Ipad to calm him down.

Tony and Andis

I was happy when this photo was taken.

Then, Tony and I had a disagreement.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saudi Arabian Chinese Food and other observations

  • I asked some students what the worse meal they ever had was.  Many of them said every meal at their school cafeteria.  One student told me he that he had his worst meal about two weeks previously.  The time frame piqued the interest of the students and this teacher.  He told us he was in Saudi Arabia when he and his companions walked into a restaurant with a sign that said Chinese Food.  They had the worst Chinese food in their lives.  The restaurant, which had no Chinese working in it, just didn't know how to make Chinese food.
  • I had told the students that my worst meal was at a hotel in Beijing in 2003 where I had the worst Western Breakfast ever.  I don't know how they cooked the eggs, but it wasn't in a Western fashion.  The eggs were runny and liquidy and couldn't have been fried using butter.
  • Another student, when I asked her, the favorite food question, told me she had a favorite food for each season.  She then proceeded to tell me her favorite food for each season.  Usually, students won't offer up so much information, so I was very impressed by her answer.
  • Students have written down the following words when I mentioned them in class:  hibernation and vomit.  Hibernation is a wonderful concept for a place when many think sleeping is a hobby.  Vomit is a good-sounding word to describe cafeteria food.
  • From the school's third floor, I was able to look below to see a worker carrying a sack of rice on his shoulder while holding onto another heavy bag with his free arm.  With his head down, he was running to his destination as fast as he could -- he had to carry the bag from a van parked on the street 50 meters to his restaurant.  I felt sorry as I watched him.  When he got to the restaurant entrance, a man was waiting for him.  "Thanks asshole for helping him!" I thought.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Randoms

  • Tony wants Ultraman
  • It was cold enough in Wuxi on December 9th that I wore a parka.  That is, it was cold enough that my wife ordered me to wear a parka.  Thankfully, it was cold enough to wear a parka.  My biggest complaint about the weather is that it sometimes doesn't make my wardrobe.
  • When it rains, you have to be the sunshine.  Or maybe it is that when it rains, you ought to be the hail.  But in practice, most of us, when it rains, are worms coming out of the soil.
  • It was chilly enough on the evening of December 8 that people waiting at the bus stop were hopping in order to keep warm.
  • I have a sore back.  I was sitting on the bus, on the way to work, for forty minutes during which I was quite satisfied.  I read a chapter of my Chinese textbook all the while listening to a China History Podcast.  After listening to the history of the Xia and then the Shang Dynasty, I put on country music that I had loaded on the phone (American Soldier by Toby Keith is a great song -- something you can play to annoy Leftists, Anti-Semites, Terrorist-sympathizers and Anti-Americans).  The bus got to the end of route.  Getting out of my seat was an ordeal.  A spasm of pain made the getting up slow.  I could have used a cane to get off the bus.  I'm getting old.
  • Meanwhile, Jenny has a sore neck and shoulder, and can't sleep.  I give her massages.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blogspot entry 4007: Peanuts and Ketchup. Creating Consists.

  • I have made as many entries in this blog as Joe Namath threw for passing yards in the 1967 American Football League season: 4,007.
  • This is wordpress entry number 3848.
  • Someone was telling my I was brave to voice my political opinions in my blog. If only I was brave enough to voice my political opinions in conversation!
  • I have lost readers by bravely voicing my opinions, but every one needs a place where they say how they think instead of just keeping their thoughts to themselves.
  • Often in conversation, I am shy to voice my opinions, often stewing inside rather than saying that I disagree with something others say. Sometimes, I can't be bothered with arguing and, to be honest, I shirk confrontation. But since this is my blog and my place, I say what I believe. There is no point worrying about losing readers who don't like what I think. This blog will last longer than anything I say in conversation.
  • Tony and his father's laptop.
  • The menu, at Grandma's, said peanuts and sauce. That is, the Grandma's that is down the street from the Blue Bar. Anyway, we ordered the peanut dish. The sauce was ketchup but I ate all the peanuts anyway.
  • Miscellaneous Photos.
  • The weather in Wuxi is strange. Here I am wearing a toque (knit cap) and long underwear (long johns) on a December day. I feel like I am in Vancouver.
  • Wuxi Construction Photos.
  • I am trying to find ways to put more trains in the Microsoft Train Simulator program I loaded on my laptop for Tony. I have figured out how to make new train configurations or consists. That is, I can now add all sorts of cars and engines to my trains. For instance, one configuration consists of five engines and alternating passenger and freight cars. Since, passenger train service often is money losing in reality, I figure all passenger trains that I design should deliver freight in order to make a profit.
  • Anyway, I figured how to make new consists or configurations using the Wordpad program. I was trying to download a consist editor with no success. Looking through forums about the matter, I came across a posting saying the best way to edit consists was using Wordpad. And it was easy, I would open up .con files and then cut and paste code.
  • Trying to put new trains in the Train Simulator program is not so easy. I downloaded a file for a Percy train (one of the trains from Thomas and Friends) followed the installation instructions in the readme file, but the train doesn't show up in the Simulator program.
  • Tony and my laptop.

Miscellaneous Photos

Construction near the Moresky360 building.

A future stop on the Wuxi Metro line.

Tony takes off the balaclava.

Daddy puts on the balaclava.

Jenny eating.

Some of Tony's toy trains.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blogspot Entry #4005: The Marxist versus the _____? The China History Podcast mentions me!

  • This is entry #3847 at akic wordpress.
  • I garnered a mention in this episode of the superb Chinese History Podcast.  No!  I haven't done anything of historical importance in China.  I did mention that I had found the podcast in a previous entry.  I hope my rare readers have taken my advice and downloaded some episodes.  I have about 50 to listen to of the 66 that are available.  So far the podcasts, I have listened to, have been very informative.  If you haven't started listening to the podcast, I would recommend you listen to the first three podcasts about Deng Xiao Peng before you listen to the fourth one in which I am mentioned.  Then refer to the entry and see how I got my mention.
  • Laslzo Montgomery, who does the podcast, has the life.  He can shuttle back and forth between the China and America.  I have to admit I envy that.  I need a little bit more of Canada than I get at the moment, and but I know I would hate to be back in Canada away from China.
  • It is depressing to see how the Republican Nomination process seems to be unfolding.  I use the word "seem" because the reporting of the process is survey driven, not based on actual voting. 
  • I am disappointed by my first choice Herman Cain having to withdraw from the race.  I can't help but think that there was some Chicago-style skulduggery from forces sympathetic to Obama involved in Cain's downfall.  Still, the Cain candidacy did some good.  I think it has chipped away at the use of the race card by the Democrats.  I hope it will convince a few Blacks that the Democrats are not their friend but the 21st century version of the Plantation owner.
  • I now place my hopes on Michelle Bachman.  I know the polls say that she has no chance.  But ultimately the anti-Romney forces can't rally behind Gingrich.  Gingrich, in his infinite wisdom, decided to sit on that park bench beside that Nancy "Stretch" Pelosi.  And his personal life will take some explaining too.  Bravo to him for converting to Catholicism but he still has the politician's habit of trying to use sophistry to try to explain away his past sins, of which he has many.  Still, he does have better ideas than the current resident of the White House, and he would be an improvement if he got to move in there.  But his ideas are all over the place like a Futurist.  Gingrich may do something good by accident, but he also seems he will be able to easily find rationales to explain any Squishy moves he would make.  Can't the Republicans do better than him?
  • Mitt Romney again would be a better President than the current resident of the White House, but, like Gingrich he has a history of squishiness.  If somehow a President Romney had a son-of-a-bitch aspect to him, like Nixon and Obama's supporters, there may be hope for the American Republic.  But I am afraid Romney isn't.  He is just a technocrat who thinks he can fix a sinking ship.
  • So the U.S. Presidential election will pit the Marxist against the Futurist?  Big Ears against Big Hair?  The Marxist against the Mormon?  The No-Hoper against the Flip-Flopper?  The Liar against  Mister Multiple Personality?  The Marxist against the Conservative?    The last matchup is devoutly to be wished for but it may not happen alas...
  • To be Mister Rodgers or Vince Lombardi?  That is the question for me as I think about teaching.  I would say that the choice depends on the students.  Some come to the class motivated, disciplined, and enthused so that a teacher can be nice.  But others need a kick in the ass. The students who come to class with no motivation, no discipline, and no enthusiasm have to be either dealt with Vince Lombardi style or purged a la KGB, OGPU pr the NKVD.  Being a humanitarian, I should turn Vince Lombardi on those latter types.
  • I wanted these students to leave the class.  Clever little bastards pretended not to understand me.  What could I do?  I took away their toys.
  • A lot of English teachers spend their spare moments playing X-Box games.  How pathethic!
  • On my Youtube Channel: 1,617,697 views.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to Ron Kaulins, brother of Andis Kaulins


That's my brother Ron in the foreground. His sister-in-law Jenny and his nephew Tony are in the background

Ron is living in Winnipeg. He now owns my Aunt Ritma's old house.

Smarter than me he is. He got himself some practical skills.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blogspot Entry Number 4002

  • This is number 3844 entry on my Wordpress blog.
  • My fantasy NFL football team is 7-5, one game out of first in its division.  This weekend's game is big -- if the Wuxi Metro lose, I don't think they will make the playoffs.
  • It is becoming cold in the Wux.  I am wearing long johns now.
  • Thirty million Wuxi Expats have done their Christmas shopping.
  • Back to using my nine year old laptop at work.  The school fixed it for me, putting in a new hard drive, free of charge.
  • What is up with Canadians?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My 4001st entry

This is entry number four thousand and one at AKIC blogspot.

To put this in perspective, Joe Namath passed for 4,007 years in the 1967 American Football League Season -- then a professional football record.

Monday, November 28, 2011

AKIC Weekend observations and observances including a defense of classical economics

  • My weekend is Monday and Tuesday.  I hope you don't have a problem with that! 
  • I type the previous in a moment of defiance.
  • These moments of defiance, I notice, are so easy to have at home.
  • I have tried to make edited videos again.  Watch here and here.
  • Those of you who live in the Hui Shan Economic Development Zone or Yanqiao may be keen to know that the 25 bus route has changed again.  A part of a part of the route that had been closed off for subway construction has re-opened, and the route now goes downtown a little bit quicker.  No more does the 25 go along part of the 610 route.
  • By the way, if you are a laowai living in the Hui Shan or Yanqiao area, you are welcome to send me an email.  We can share some of my Crown Royal or just have a chit-chat.  Email me at akaulins@gmail.com.
  • Train!
  • Photos taken on our trainspotting trip.
  • The study of Economics has been taking some hits lately.  For example, this article which states that Economics should construct its theories on the basis of evolutionary biology.  Classical Economic Theory, the article insists, has been discredited because it couldn't predict the Economic Meltdown of 2008. Classical Economics also needs to fix itself of the rational behavior assumptions used in its models -- this is what I get from the article.   And if this is what the article's author is stating,  I would say it is weak stuff. 
  • Evolutionary biology, as far as I can understand, hasn't been able to make predictions either.  The life that evolutionary biology has had as a field of study, simply hasn't been long enough, if my assumptions about it are true, to have been able to make predictions.  The changes it says happen and will happen take place over many lifetimes -- no evolutionary biologist could see his predictions come to fruition or to naught.  Economics, similarly, can't predict with complete certainty what will happen in the future.  I recall reading somewhere that Milton Friedman said that he didn't make predictions because the mere fact of his predicting something would cause people to react in a way that was both unpredictable and negating of his prediction.  Any economist that would try to make predictions, with complete authority, is making a logical error.  For example, let's say that an economist tries to predict which businesses will fail and which won't.  If every business heeded the economist's predictions, would this mean that there would be no unprofitable businesses?.  Of course not!  One can take a guess, and there is a good chance that the economist is right but there is also a chance that he will be wrong.  Economics is not deterministic and it is logically impossible that it could be. 
  • This talk of Classical Economics changing its rational behavior assumptions is also a dead end.  The classical models are built on the fact that people are subjective in their economic-decision making, not rational.  And what is rational or irrational is a subjective matter.  People who complain of this rationality assumption, don't seem to notice this -- at least that is what I have seen. 
  • Hope for somewhat more realistic model of economic behavior has been invested its hopes in Behavioral Economics.  I just recently listened to an advocate trying to defend Behavioral Economics lack of simplifying assumptions, what he called its many theories or complexity, by comparing B.E. to an the operation of one's eyes.  Our eyes are very complex things.  Our eyes are good.  Therefore, B.E. is good because it is complex.  This is a charlatanistic or pseudo-scientific argument.  What first sprung to my mind, when I heard the B.E. advocate say that, was how Freudists had to resort to more complex theorizing to explain away what wasn't consistent with their theories.  The other point I make about the argument about eyes is this:  they can't see everything.  We can use our eyes to look at elephants.   A lot of theory, built up through observation about how Elephants exist and operate is correct.  And yet we can't predict with absolute certainty what any elephant will do in the next minute.  B.E., is trying too hard, to do something with economics that just can't be done.
  • Try as they might, Classical Economics is the best tool out there to analyze Economics, because it isn't deterministic and its assumptions are built not on rational behavior, but subjectivity.  This is unfortunately not understood by so many.   
  • My son Tony climbs and slides.
  • Tony on a bridge.
  • Photos I took on the bridge that were not of Tony.

Extra Photos taken on my Trainspotting trip

Watch the video of the trip.

During the trip, I took these photos:



Train near Casa K


Trainspotting with the Kaulins Family China

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday Notes

  • I have discovered that by going into my program files and deleting files named zh_cn (zhongwen China) that I can get many programs to have English interfaces.  I am now able to easily use Windows Movie Maker and the Video Camera on my new laptop.  
  • Tony and Jenny spend Saturday and Sunday evenings in Changzhou, about 15 minutes, by fast train, from Wuxi.  Tony, I heard, was really excited to ride an electric car and bicycle belonging to a Changzhou cousin.
  • While they were away, I didn't do much except watch a DVD (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and try to play with video editors.
  • The Blue Bombers didn't win the Grey Cup game.
  • Wuxi Expat marries Battleship.
  • Some Wuxi Expat severely punished for violating curfew.
  • Wuxi, China now  has some old American West style saloons.

Andis picks up Tony

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grey Cup and Links

Grey Cup
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play the British Columbia Lions in the 2011 Grey Cup Game which is at the Lions home stadium in Vancouver, Canada.  I hope the Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup, and that Vancouverites and Lower-Mainlanders don't trash their city again when the Blue Bombers do win.  You may recall that after Vancouver's hockey team lost a home game, where the Stanley Cup was on the line, causing Vancouverites and Lower-Mainlanders to riot.

I imagine that this time, Vancouver police will be deployed.

Links



Can we do this.... yeah?!?

For the last three days, Tony has been using the above-mentioned grammar pattern.  Anytime he wants to suggest a course of action for us or me, he has been stating the hoped-for action and then adding a "yeah" which is either exclamatory or interrogatory.

I assume he picked up this annoying pattern from school, but from whom?  Are the teachers teaching him this?  Is there some young foreigner, drunk when not teaching, who taught him this?

If I had the time, I would investigate.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank you America!

A thought crossed my mind.  I must thank America for the fact that I married Jenny and we have our beautiful son Tony.  Sure, I can thank China, and I do.  China is my in-law after all.  But America by being America, by being capitalistic, won an important battle of ideas that did lead to my being in China and meeting Jenny. 

China, after throwing in the towel in 1979 by getting away from socialistic planning and taking up markets, opened up to the world.  Ultimately, this was America's doing, and the fervency with which some would deny this fact, only proves my point.  I have seen many for whom America-hatred is an obsession.  (I have the opposite obsession which is to defend it.)  They go out of their way to say and think the worse of America.

This opening up by China is why I am here.  And since I am have been here, what I have seen shows that there is no denying that Chinese people want what America has.  The Chinese want shopping and cars and computers.

America, by standing up for South Korea, a Democratic China, and rebuilding Japan left China with no choice but to change its ways.

Thank God they did!  What would I do without Jenny and Tony?

I took Tony for a walk on Sunday Night

It is becoming routine, but what the hell! He is my son and all. I just wish he would go where I wanted to go. I was only able to get him to go to the Hui Shan People's Square, where I took the photo below, after prevailing in a battle of wills at a nearby shopping plaza.

Then Tony impressed with his feats of daring.


You can see more of the photos of Tony that I took Sunday evening here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Random thoughts and observations for November 2011

  • Am I an expert on China?  Hell no!  The more time I spend here, the less I know.
  • Am I trying to learn about Chinese culture?  Yes. 
  • Am I trying to learn the language?  Yes.  But I am not learning very quickly.
  • Why does America defend the weak and the small?  Great column by VDH!
  • An employee at Carrefour starts at 1400 rmb a month.  A cashier gets 1500.
  • Things I am looking forward to:  Giving Tony his Christmas presents, and the death of Pierre Trudeau's pallbearer Fidel Castro.
  • Things I am devoutly hoping for: the defeat of Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential election.
  • Will it be Romney versus Obama in 2012?  The Squish against the Marxist?
  • Friday, November 18 was a foggy day in Wuxi.  This meant traffic was heavy as the elevated roads were closed.  It took me 30 more minutes to get to work.
  • Check out this site from a Shanghai Expat.  His connection to Wuxi is that he has a Wuxi wife.
  • The problem in life is you are what you do; not what you want to do.  Your interior life is invisible to others.
  • But then again, if one's interior life is rich, who cares what others think!
  • Saturday, November 19, the bus I was taking to work broke down -- a not uncommon occurrence.  I had a seat on that bus so I noticed as I pulled my head out of my Chinese textbook, and saw that the bus driver was outside examining something.  I shrugged in a mental way and thought  "I am going to have to get off and catch another bus and I will have to stand the rest of the way."  But I waited till others got off because it meant that the driver had given word.  Then as I joined the others who were getting off the bus, I noticed  that it had stalled in the worst possible place for other traffic.  Because of subway construction, the road, the bus was on, had been narrowed from three lanes to one lane going each way.  The first thing I saw as I got off the bus was another bus, right behind, unable to pass the stalled bus I had just been on.  There was no room to go around.  And behind that trapped bus, I could see a long lineup of traffic and several more buses stopped and unable to move.  These were all the other buses I was going to take!  I realized that I was going to have to walk down the road to a bus stop past a major intersection and hope to catch another bus going downtown.  But I didn't know of buses I could catch down that road.  I thought to catch a taxi, but I instead walked twenty minutes to get downtown and to a bus stop where I knew I could catch a bus.  Thankfully, it wasn't raining so heavily.  And I didn't see any buses go down the road that the bus was to have proceeded.
  • Walking an area you frequently drive or ride through is a radical change in perspective.  Many areas become tawdry when seen close up.  Walking on my bus route, I saw trash, dog turds, and muck.  I was going through an soul-less industrial and market area.
  • I now have two laptops.  The IT guys at school have fixed my old one.  I would like to give it to Tony, but Jenny probably has some other ideas about what to do with it.
  • I hear that the U.S. Army is deploying in Australia.  My reaction to the news?  Bloody good thing.  Those Australians need some civilizing.  I know the Australian anti-Yanks in Wuxi will hate it, but they prove my point.  Anti-Americanism is akin to Antisemitism, and is therefore barbaric.
  • I trust that my friend Harry Moore in Brisbane will welcome the U.S. Marines with open arms.  He may even buy them a few drinks.
  • One of the Chinese staff at my school spent six years in Vancouver I learned.  I grilled her with questions.  She knew nothing of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Langley, Surrey or Pitt Meadows. She spent all her time in Richmond.  Her excuse for not knowing of these places?  She said she was Chinese.
  • Who do I want to see win the Republican Presidential nomination?  All of the Republican candidates, even Jon Huntsman, would be better that the current occupant of the White House.  But of course, anything in the product line of Lay's potato chips in China would make for a better president than Obama who is running the worse administration since the invention of electricity.  I will stick with Herman Cain as my first choice.  His gaffes are unimportant.  His so-called sexual harassment misdeeds are inconsequential legally.  The one concrete allegation against him seems to have come from a very questionable accuser.   My second choice is Michelle Bachman.  It is a shame her campaign has gotten no traction.  Newt Gingrich, I hear, was getting money from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and his excuses for doing this are making him sound like a Democrat.  This disqualifies him.  I like Gingrich but he is a Republican Clinton.  Clinton, who was a pervert and probably a rapist, was an idea guy in a way.  Of course a lot of Clinton's ideas were Democrat-stupid.  But Clinton was able to embrace Republican ideas that gave him the veneer of competence.  House leader Gingrich, an idea guy, probably gave President Clinton a lot of these Republican ideas and like Clinton he had a lot of personal baggage.  Unfortunately for Gingrich's presidential aspirations, Gingrich is a Republican and so he has to be held to higher standards.  Gingrich was no rapist, of course.  But the things he did in his past, which he has tried to redeem himself through by converting to Catholicism, though of no importance to Democrats, are disqualifying for a Republican.  I would take Romney over Huntsman or Paul if that was the choice, but I would do so holding my nose.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taking Tony for an evening walk cures my ennui

I was feeling depressed Monday.  No sleep the night before and spending my whole day off in front of the laptop had me thinking what's the point.

As four p.m.approached, I found I couldn't get myself primed for Tony coming home from kindergarten.  I dragged myself to the rendezvous point.  It was just going to be him and me as Jenny was in Taixing.  When the van from the kindergarten did come, I put him on my shoulders and found out that he wanted to play with the train simulator program I had on the computer.  I was hoping he wouldn't say that, so I took him for a walk first before I took him home to turn on the computer.  Still, I wanted to get home quickly.  I wasn't interested in watching him play at a playground.

Within minutes of arriving home we were playing with the train software.  I found I couldn't stop myself from letting him try my patience.  Within minutes, we were bickering about who was to control the train and what train we were going to control.

When Jenny arrived home, Tony and I went went to meet her at the local Taiwanese restaurant where they were now serving Hot Pot.  This new addition to their menu turned out to be a disappointment because we served too much soggy and boiled lettuce, and little succulent meat.  Tony added to the dismalness by not being interested in sitting in the restaurant, and by causing me to rise every two minutes to see where he had gotten to.

Walking home from the restaurant, I decided to take Tony for a walk because the evening was cloudless and comfortably coo,l and because I felt a sense of duty. 

I decided to take Tony down a road that passed some neighboring apartment complexes and lead to a park.  We passed about fifty shops before we got to the park, and this made my spirits rise.  My 'hood was interesting I realized, even if it was in a nowhere part of Wuxi.

When we got to the park, it was dark, but Tony recognized it from previous trips, and ran to where the slides and other climbing sets were.  He ascended an exceedingly steep and tall play tower -- full of marvel and concern at his daring, I kept close to him.

I was to be pleasantly surprised as Tony readily acquiesced to my desire to walk on a boardwalk built around the park's lake.  Overlooking the dark park were tall apartment towers under construction and a canopy of stars.  Tony was strangely calm and uncomplaining as we did a circuit of the park and of the nearby apartments.  One time, we did stop throw rocks and clumps of dirt into the lake.  I enjoyed observing the concentric waves formed from my tosses.

Tony was on my shoulders through most of our walk.  But as we were headed back to our apartment and Jenny, he told me that he didn't want to sit on my shoulders and instead wanted to be held in my arms.  He said "Daddy bao-bao! No 1-2-3!" The walk had made him sleepy and he wanted to put his head on my shoulders.  Even though Tony had become too heavy for me to carry in my arms for more than fifty meters, he made my day and wiped out my ennui.

Tony jumps and shots and lies down

Tony jumps and shots and lies down

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 14, 2011: I'm a little bit country. My Republican Love Match. Lunch with Paul and Lilly. Accident aftermaths.

  • After listening to this podcast, I have decided to seek out country music on the Internet.  I think of this new interest as a sign of my continuing intellectual maturity. I feel now that if you really want to open your mind, you have to listen to country music.  Pop Music is generally an urban and pretentious things -- it is noisy and about style -- lyric matters little to it.  Country does express ideas -- not stylish postures.
  • Who is your Republican Presidential candidate love match?  I took this quiz to find mine.  The quiz shows the taker a quote from each of the GOP candidates on nine topics, and so you must pick the one you like the best or most agree with.  The only problem with the quiz  is that you may find yourself agreeing with seven or eight of the quotes, and so you can only choose one based on really uncertain criteria.  The quiz, after my first taking, told me my love match was Mitt Romney which only shows that he can't be trusted to be a true conservative when push comes to shove.  You have to judge Mitt by his actions and his flip-flops, not what he says.
  • Not being satisfied with the quiz result, I took it again and my Republican Presidential candidate love match was Jon Huntsman!  WTF!
  • Clearly the quiz is flawed.  Huntsman, disqualified himself in my book, when he said he was a moderate!  You might as well say you come to work moderately drunk or are moderately honest.
  • The one or two sentence statements, that the quiz asks the taker to decide between, don't really completely encapsulate my thoughts and beliefs about an issue.
  • Third time taking the quiz, my match is Sarah Palin!  Yes!  
  • Will Gorzo the Mighty become the King of China Expats?
  • Yesterday, we had lunch with Paul and Lilly at Mama's on the top floor of Wuxi Yaohan, formerly Ba Bai Ban.  Paul has a blog somewhere on the Internet.  And as soon as he provides me the link I will pass it on.  He, like me, met his wife in Wuxi.  He is very tech savvy, and so unlike me, he is not in this English teaching racket.  I am hoping he can fix up my laptop and websites.
  • Anyway, he is a great guy, he loves China, and he has found a job in Shanghai.  His wife Lily's parents live in Wuxi, and I will get to see them periodically.
  • Tony managed to sit still throughout that lunch because he was able to play with an Ipad.  He gave the evil eye to a boy who stopped to watch him.
  • And the food was good!
  • Wife tells me she saw an accident aftermath scene at an intersection near Casa K.  She saw a man on a motorcycle laying on the ground with a open-eyed and stunned look om his face.  I immediately recalled the time I saw two men laying with similar looks on their faces on a freeway after they had been in a collision with a flatbed truck.  I assumed they that were dead.  Jenny wasn't so sure with her sight.  She said she saw no blood.  I remember seeing blood trickling down the forehead from my incident.
  • Tony has a gun: see this here, and here.
  • Restless Sunday night:  I lay awake.  I was soothing my depressed mood -- it really seemed to be a physical not mental manifestation -- with comforting thoughts.  It was battle of my will and soul against my body.
  • How to get Chinese students to talk.  It is not easy.  I try to talk about things that they have experience with, but even then you have to deal with their natural reticence or shyness.  I think that the educational system forces many of them to be quiet.  Some of the students can barely talk about a whisper.  One kid was so bad that I had to call him mumbles.  Thirty admonitions in the class couldn't change.  I should have put his genitals in a wrench.
  • Another girl gave me the impression that she had never been asked direct questions by a teacher ever.

Andis and his son Tony

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Student has snake. Hides fact from Grandfather.

A student of mine has a pet snake.  Recently, I have been having a class with her every weekend so I have learned a lot about the snake and monitored its status.

The student ordered the snake on the Internet.  She showed me pictures of it.  It was long, thin, and with with dark spots.  As far as I could tell, Blackie was harmless.

When she ordered the snake, she also ordered about a dozen mice to feed it.  But for the first two weeks, she said the snake wasn't eating.

Yesterday however, she reported that the snake had eaten one mouse.  The other mice, she told me, she put in the fridge.  I asked how it was that her grandparents (not her parents,) who she lives with, let her do that with the mice.

I found out that her grandmother lets her do this and doesn't have problems with her having a pet snake.  However, she keeps the fact from her grandfather who she says thinks snakes are bad luck.  Her grandfather normally doesn't enter her room and she puts the snake in the closet.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

  • 11/11/11:  To the Chinese it meant singles day.  To me it meant three elevens.  I congratulated a girl at school, whose name is Eleven, on the day.  Even she thought of it as singles day, not triple eleven day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wuxi Tony Update: November 2011

Shut-Up Toy

  • Shut-Up Toy: a toy bought for the purpose of making a child shut up. A shut-up toy is not readily given but held back until the parent thinks that aren't any options to get the child to be quiet.
  • I bought a shut-up toy for Tony yesterday, and I was able to hold off giving it to him for about 30 minutes.
  • Marxism makes whole classes of people illegitimate irregardless of whether as individuals they are good or bad. I know a Thatcher-hater saying she was from a certain class. I remember a self-described Democratic Socialist telling me that a Venezuelan critic of Hugo Chavez, who I had met in China, was probably from the wrong Venezuelan class.
  • Walking with Tony at the People's Square near Casa Kaulins, I saw a man practicing his trumpet playing, another man roller blading with tiny pylons, a woman practicing a goose-step style of sprinting, and the moon shining through the clouds.
  • The infrastructure around here is crumbling so easily. Everything quickly becomes cracked and crumbled.
  • I spent three hours on Monday listening to some very interesting WGN Extension 720 podcasts about Stalin and the Soviet Union. It is hard to wrap my head around how evil Stalin was and how some people in Russia today still think of him as being a wonderful man -- I use the word "wonderful" instead of "great" purposely.
  • Stalin was a man of the Left whose actions were a result of the logic of Marxism. One author said he was an Islamic Fundamentalist in his Marxist zeal. Stalin knew that building a Socialist society required lots of bloodshed. I have had people tell me about "the crimes of America" and they were never as bad as what Stalin as a Leftist did in the Soviet Union.
  • One more thing. The Soviet Union never redeemed itself. Russia hasn't either. America has.
  • The logic of the people who take the Palestinian side of the Israel -- Palestine conflict hold that view, it seems to me, that Israel is not perfect and should be condemned for being so. They never seem to have anything positive to say about the Palestinians. They never say that Palestine is capable of running its own state. They further state that Israel supporters see Israel as doing no wrong -- I can't imagine any Israel supporter readily saying that Israel is perfect, but then the people who are against Israel are engaging in the typical Leftist tactic of saying something, they don't like is not perfect and so it is no good. Israel is the better country in this dispute. Israel is Civilization. The Palestinians have the victim mentality and few, if any, virtues -- a deadly combination.
  • I make the previous point after having listened to this Slate Political gabfest podcast. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the podcast participants said, was a lout. They didn't mention his recent prisoner exchange with the Palestinians -- proof positive that Israel is civilized and Palestine isn't. They then speculated about why the Palestinians haven't tried to further their cause through non-violent means and protests. They shrugged off that thought by saying that Palestine was the product of a culture that was violent. So much in that to make an Israel supporter shake his head.
  • Another smashing column from David Warren. I quote this passage from it: There was no point in arguing with the workman about what he was being paid to do. On near approach one could anyway see he has attitude problems. I would, too, if I had his job; especially if I was as incapable of performing it as he is. For on closer inspection he'd been making a dreadful mess. A tremendous pile of waste rock was accumulating; it took him four or five tries to make any stone fit; and those already laid had irregular gaps between them. I can make similar observations about the quality of the work I see here in China -- Warren observed workers in Canada. Warren's point of describing the worker with the rock is that our current view of Economics is statistical and not practical. The workman had been using a power tool to do his work ineptly when in the past a workman could have done it with a chisel and with great skill. The older workman probably would have added little to the GDP. The modern workman would have had added multiple times more to the GDP. Becoming statistical ciphers instead of true workman instead interested in making durable things, people then go for a tacky consumerism which involves endless acquisition of useless crap. Warren so concludes that the Tawdry Consumerism of today, which has gone gangbusters in China, has stripped labour of its dignity. In my school, I see that most students would consider it beneath them to be a craft worker, but they want all the latest stuff. The workers on all the construction projects in China want the same consumerism, and they have no problems with cutting corners -- put it up as quickly as possible, whatever happens after that isn't our problem.
  • I find many of Warren's columns to be sobering in that I look at myself and become so much more aware of my limitations. I would be more inept that the worker Warren observed. I would be more slip-shod than the workers I observe here in China.
  • I talked to my mother and sister on the phone last night. Dad, I heard, spends most of his time in bed and hasn't been eating. Mom is back home but we worry if she will be able to look after herself over the winter. Chances are they will be selling their house in Spring so they can move into an apartment.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two days off! Oh boy!

  • What am I going to do?  I don't know.  The wife and I will do some grocery shopping.  I am will try and convince her that we should go to Menzhidao, the computer market place, to see if I can get the Operating System to work in Chinese and English.  I asked some of my students who work in IT about this, and from what I understood, they said it was possible.
  • Mom is going to have to sell her home in the spring.  My father is going to have to go into a care home.
  • I think I should teach Foreigners how to understand Wuxi English.  Students keep telling me that they understand my English, but not that of many other foreigners.
  • Is my 4 year old son Tony a playground bully?  Read about it here or here.
  • KFC currently has a Thomas & Friends promotion:  buy a meal, get a Thomas toy.  Tony loves Thomas, as many rare readers may know, and so when we took him into KFC, he got very excited when he saw the promotion signage.  Only problem was that they had run out of toys.  Tony cried and cried when we carried him away.
  • A lot of great podcasts to be downloaded from here.  That is the link for the WGN Extension 720 Show.  Be sure to visit the Audio archives.  I have downloaded some podcasts about Munich 1938, Stalin, and Country Music. 
  • BTW, Here is my list of top ten podcasts:
  1. Econtalk
  2. Radio Derb
  3. Mark Levin Show
  4. The Ricochet Podcast
  5. WGN Extension 720
  6. EWTN podcasts featuring Mother Angelica, Father Groeschel and others.
  7. Charles Adler
  8. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History (I don't recommend his common sense podcast)
  9. Podcasts from Outloud Opinion (Editorials read aloud)
  10. Podcasts from the City Journal (Articles read aloud)
  • Other podcasts that I listen to out a regular basis include the Slate Political Gabfest, some ESPN podcasts, G. Gordon Liddy, In Our Time with Melvin Bragg, History of Rome, the Napoleon Podcast, and Wiretap from the CBC.  The Slate one I listen to just to confirm my notions that Leftists are as silly as I think they are.  I have just started listening to some podcasts which I recommended in an earlier entry.
  • Sorry, I didn't provide links.  I download all these shows through my RSS Reader.  If you can't find the shows send me an email (akaulins@gmail.com).
  • Tony and I played with the Microsoft Train Simulator last night.  He is getting around to the idea that the steam locomotives are a pain in an ass to play with.  He did spend some time watching the modern commuter trains in action.  I let him try to figure out the software on his own.  He does know how to get out of a simulation he doesn't like.  He just doesn't know how to get into a new one.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Should China bail out Europe? Broken Down Bus. Sinica Podcast. My son is a bugger at bedtime.

  • Should China bail out Europe?  That was the question I asked students at my Friday evening English Corner.  None of them said yes.  And when I pointed out to them that China was still a much relatively poorer place than Europe, that the Europeans work but 37 hours a weeks and that they get six weeks of holidays, the students were even less inclined.  I then mentioned the European occupation of China over a hundred years, and the students attitude could then be summed up in two words:  "Screw them!"
  • Saturday morning, the bus, I was taking, broke down.  Everyone got off and caught another one.  I don't think any of the passengers were compensated for their trouble unless they told the driver on the next bus what had happened.  I should have done that but I couldn't be bothered.
  • My son Tony is a bugger at bedtime.  Here is the photographic proof.
  • I have found and recommend to you two informative podcasts about China.  Previously, I mentioned the China History Podcast.  I will say it is very informative.  My only quibble is that I wish the host Laslzo Montgomery would stop telling us about his travel itinerary.  Just get to the history!  please!  The other podcast I have found is the Sinica Podcast.  I have listened to a couple episodes. I will say it is informative, but I can tell that the hosts are generally on the left wing of the political spectrum with their NPR manner of speaking.  As well, they suggested, in one podcast, that North Korea would change if the Americans had a kind of "Nixon goes to China" moment with them.   A patently ridiculous suggestion, of course, coming from the stupid notion that Americans are responsible for all the trouble in the world.  Here is a link to the Sinica Webcast.  I use a rss reader so here is the rss feed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tony on a school field trip

Tony is in the back row, fourth from the left.


You can see more photos of Tony on the field trip: here and here.

No headphones

I took the 610 bus to work Friday morning.  I got a seat as far back in the bus as I could.  

Once seated, I took out my Chinese textbook, and read, all the while wishing I could hear the podcast playing on my mobile phone.  I had just about destroyed another set of earphones.  I would have to put off buying another set for a while since the idea of asking my wife to buy another earphones would be met with her exasperation.

Looking at my book, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that the guy besides me was cranking his neck to see what I was looking at.  I just wasn't in a foul-tempered mood just then so I ignored him. 

I then heard him muttering.  I thought he was singing along with music on his mobile phone.  But as I arose from my seat to get off the bus, I noticed he wasn't wearing any earphones.

He was slightly mad, like me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Car Sick

I took a taxi, with one of the Chinese teachers at my school, to an on-site company class.  When we arrived, the Chinese teacher told me she was car sick.  This taxi driver, she said, drove very recklessly.  I was surprised at her reaction because I didn't think the taxi driver had been particularly reckless.  But then I was listening to my podcast and my mind was elsewhere.

I did notice that the taxi driver who took us back to school was crazy, however.  Wearing a baseball cap backwards, this driver looked like a stereotypical western car-thief on a joy ride.  He swerved through traffic, and almost brought on a moment of fright for me as he just missed striking a car, he was passing on the left, that had its turn signals on and was starting to change lanes.  There was no way that car could have seen our taxi until the last instance -- it was the second car to be passed in a quick weaving maneuver being performed by our "joy-driver."

It seems to me that the taxi drivers have become more and more reckless in the time I have been in Wuxi.

Incident

I got on the 25 bus Wednesday evening. I took a seat in the back corner of the bus on the side farthest from the exit door. I pulled out my Chinese textbook. I was content to study it as I listened to a podcast on my mobile phone. But, I noticed that this woman and boy sat beside me. The bus was very empty so passengers boarding had a choice of seats. The woman exchanged seats with the boy so he could sit next to me. The boy, wearing coke bottle glasses, noticed my book and he tried to practically stick his head in it. This annoyed to me very much.


Locals staring at what I am reading happens a lot, and I usually try to ignore it, though I am always fighting a feeling of annoyance which prevents me from concentrating.


Wednesday evening, however, I lost my temper. I screamed at them. "Fuck off! Do you think I am some kind of monkey for you to show to your kid!" I also made a rude gesture towards them. I remember looking into the woman's face and not being able to tell if my anger was registering with her. She looked to have an amused and quizzical look on her face.


Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another empty seat over the bus's rear wheel well, and rushed over to it. I then tried to concentrate on my book, and didn't bother looking back to see how the pair reacted. But the concentrating didn't happen. I felt sheepish as I always do after a burst of anger.


Now, I regret what I did. The detail of the child's glasses which I noticed at the time, I now realize, stupidly you would say, show that he looked in the intrusive manner he did because of his poor eyesight. All I can say in my defense is that the being stared at is hard at times, and I don't like my happy world intruded into. I am too weak sometimes to fight my evil inclinations. I must always keep my guard up – against myself.


This happy world of mine is one where I am king and the lies to myself are unquestioned – but that is another story for another time.

Back to Work

  • I spent my last two days off at home.  Nothing seemed better to me than to play on the Internet and listen to podcasts.  I did take Tony for a bike ride, which I think I just mentioned in a previous entry.  We, that is Jenny and I, went to the nearby Tesco to shop.  There, she successfully talked me out of buying a HDMI cable that would have allowed me to connect my laptop to our big-screen television.  Jenny gave me an ultimatum:  I could have the cable or I could have bread and biscuits.  Thinking about it for ten minutes, I realized that the computer-television connection was probably something that I wouldn't be doing so often.  Tony would get involved so that he and I would start arguing.  I opted for bread and biscuits.
  • Herman Cain had a spot of trouble.  My instinct is that he will get through it.  My suspicion is that he violated some left-wing taboo way back when.  They say Cain is a gentleman, and he has a direct manner about him that Romney doesn't have.  Gentlemen, in this day and age, will do things that are not in keeping with leftist orthodoxies.  Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Obama have done worse things that didn't disqualify them -- it helped that they were Democrats, of course, and so they had lower moral standards to adhere to.  I just don't think Tea Party supporters are going to be cowed into going along with what the establishment types want them to believe.  Cain will probably come out of this stronger.
  • Tony and I played with the Microsoft Train Simulator again.  We were less annoyed with each other than the last time I put on the software for him.  Tony didn't have a fit begging for me to put on the software after supper.  He sat at his little table and used crayons to color for two hours.
  • The Europeans are begging the Chinese to help them with their financial trouble?  This is the continent happily marched into WW1, and that tried to stop wars from ever happening again, only to have to fight WW2.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ramada near Casa K

Here is a link that tells you all about the big hotel that is next to our apartment complex (which I recently discovered is called the California Villa).

I salivate to hear about their American breakfast.  But it is probably far too expensive.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tony Kaulins wears a Halloween Mask

Confession, Atheists, Halloween, and Property Soaps

  • At the bus stop, a young man walks up to me and asks if he can practice his English.  I say yes, and we talk at the stop and then on the bus.  I learn that he is studying for a Masters degree in Economics.  I ask him about the Chinese economy.  How is it? I ask.  He says that it is not so great because of the property soaps.  I tell him he means property bubbles.  We pass elevated Wuxi Metro tracks.  I ask him if Wuxi needs a subway.  He says he thinks it doesn't.  He also says that subway is being built very quickly and will probably be shoddy when completed.  He then tells me that I am the first foreigner he has ever talked to.  I found this hard to believe.  His English was at an advanced beginner level.   I questioned him.  He told me that he read a lot on his own, and listened to VOA.
  • Confession:  No matter how many times, I watch documentaries about Stalingrad, I always find myself wanting the Nazis to extract themselves.  They didn't of course, which was a good thing.  Only problem was the Soviets won which wasn't a good thing either, except for the fact that the Nazis lost.  I cheer for the Nazis over the Soviets because they looked cooler.  The Soviets were dour-faced and savage looking.  This thought must be a strange residue from my childhood when I found myself happy that Trudeau won elections in Canada.  He was cool-looking too.
  • Someone asked how the Poles could like the Germans more than the Russians.  The Russians, I said, were Barbarians.  I mentioned that I was Latvian and how faced with a similar choice, they choose the Germans as well.  The Germans did nasty things in WWII but they redeemed themselves.  The Russians never did recognize the barbaric nature of the Soviet Union.  Thinking more about it, I should have also mentioned that the Poles were Catholics and the Russians, especially the Soviet variety, were atheist.  Catholics, have had to deal with thugs throughout their history, but they can't deal with people who want to destroy their Church.  That is why they took the Fascist side in the Spanish Civil War, for instance.
  • I am in China.  I have been so for over seven years.  Who would have thought it?  I still see something, that so Asian and not to be seen in Canada, that makes me aware of the fact.
  • Interesting dynamics at school with a full-pledged atheist and an avowed Christian in the same office.  The atheist talks of converting the Christian.  The atheist's hatred of the Christian is scary to behold.  See the hatred, and you believe that the Devil exists.  However, the Christian is loud in his own right, and says things as well that make me bristle. 
  • I have often thought that the two most annoying types are atheists and born-again Christians, but I will take the Christian over the atheist.  Atheists, I notice, don't have to be held to any standard, so they have it easy.(Full disclosure:  I want to be a Catholic.)  Christians do have high standards that they must try to keep to.  Anyone who tries to keep high standards is always going to look to be lacking.  Christians are not perfect.  They may often not seem better than those who aren't Christian, but they are often better persons than they would otherwise be because they are Christians.
  • More than anything, I hate Communism.  When atheists praise Communists for clamping down on religion, I have good reason to be religious.  How can one live a life so devoid of spirit?
  • One problem about having been in China so long is that I am completely out of the loop when it comes to my parents.  My mother is out of the hospital, but she hasn't fully recovered from her surgery.   Thankfully, my sister is there to help her for two weeks.  But after that, Mom will be on her own.  Dad may never be able to return home. 
  • Saturday night, the school held a Halloween Party.  Tony came to it.  He tried to steal the microphone of the party's hosts.  When they took it away from him, he became very upset.  He was only placated when someone allowed him to play Angry Birds on their I-Phone.  However, Tony did like wearing a mask, and I was able to take good photos of him doing so. You can visit the Tony Kaulins blog to see them.
  • Sunday evening, the K family went to a restaurant in the Nanchang Temple Market.  The restaurant, set along a canal, was narrow.  In theory, it was set up nicely.  In practice, it had a shoddy feel to it, and the area besides the canal was filthy.