Monday, February 28, 2011

Put another entry in the bloggy!

  • Looks like the fire needs another loggy!    I am on a rhyming roll.
  • I watched Sons of Anarchy, season one's second-last episode, last evening.  It was quite affecting.  I shouldn't give the plot away but tragic circumstances of the plot made that particular episode, the best of the series so far.
  • Don't smoke in the apartment, it makes it smoggy!     Yeah!
  • Anyway, or as I prefer to say: anywho.  Tony's Spring Festival holiday is over.  Dad has just put Tony into the van that takes him to kindergarten.
  • I don't like pilsners, I prefer to drink a loggy!  Maybe not.
  • On an recommendation from a rare reader, I have listened to a podcast, originating from Canada, called Wiretap.  (you can find it by googling "wiretap podcast").  After listening to three episodes, I can say that it sounds, to me, like a Canadian Audio version of Seinfeld -- a show about nothing.  Not that there's anything wrong with that -- it is the small things that make life.  Still, I see old men having to pull carts laden with bricks early in the morning, and so I must never forget that being frivolous is a luxury many can't afford.
  • I also listened to a Econotalk podcast with guest George Will.  It was interesting enough podcast though really not having much to do with Economics.  Will spoke about two topics dear to my heart: the contention that today's political discourse is over the top, and baseball.  On the former, Will said that partisan politics has always been rough and tumble, and that in the past it has been more so.  If anything today, there are, as he put it, more ignoramuses with soapboxes, but that ultimately their effect is to drown each other out.  On baseball, he said the sport is in good shape because of Jackie Robinson, Free Agency, and the building of many Camdem Yard like baseball stadiums.  He wished the DH will go away.  All good points.  However, he didn't say anything about the wild card -- the most noxious thing, I feel, to happen to baseball other than the steroid controversy.
  • Student said I had to get "a new virgin of a program."
  • After our walk (see links below), Tony and I boarded a crowded bus.  Someone wanted to yield us their seat but I declined because Tony and I were only going to get off after three stops.  (The deference shown to Tony and I from the locals on the bus is wonderful.)  However, Tony said "sit down" because he didn't care to stand.  And as luck would have it, someone else yielded their seat to us.
  • AKIC&TKIC Links:  Tony's latest toy purchase, Yummy things Expats can buy in Wuxi supermarkets, Tony goes back to school,  Hot&Sour Fish Soup Flavour Potato ChipsTKIC and AKIC went for a walk on Monday afternoon,  Duke Snider R.I.P.,  George Clooney and Mango, Tony tries to hide from admirers, and Missing Wuxi China Expats Update.

Andis and Tony go for a Monday walk

Tony and I got a bus yesterday afternoon. We got off after four stops and went for a walk. Below are some of things we saw.

Someone thought it was a good idea to decorate this small island, and I thought it was a good idea to take a photo of it.

This recently-constructed stretch of road is not being used much.

China is full of bridges.

This fellow was doing his laundry.

Modern China is full of highway support columns.

Duke Snider R.I.P.

There is a famous baseball song titled "Willie, Mickey, and the Duke".  I still hum to myself while in China.  The song recalls a time when New York City had three baseball teams:  the Yankees, the Giants, and the Dodgers.  The Willie in the song was Willie Mays who played for the New York Giants.  Mickey was Mickey Mantle who played for the Yankees.  The Duke was Duke Snider who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Now the era that Willie, Mickey, and the Duke dominated the New York baseball scene was before my time.  It in ended in 1957 when the Giants and Dodgers moved to the West Coast.  I believe Willie, Mickey, and the Duke were all probably still playing in the majors when I was born in 1964.  And I recollect seeing Willie play for the Mets in the '73 World Series.  I think it is quite something to observe that when I was Tony's age, the legendary Will Mays was still a great player.
But it is Duke Snider who I have the most and fondest recollections of from his time working with Dave Van Horne on broadcasts of Montreal Expos games.  They will always be my favorite play-by-play and colour commentator pair to have ever worked a baseball game.  I grew up with them and they turned me into a baseball fan.  So, to read of Snider's passing away brings back memories of the time I cut out the major league standings and pasted them into scrapbooks -- I thought I was living through history.  I don't need to use scrapbooks anymore, thanks to the Internet, and so I wonder if the kids of today, like Tony, will have the same fondness for things that were in such smaller supplies when I was growing up.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blogging on the fly.

  • I am always having to rush the blog entries.  Now, it is morning and I blog hastily.  I have overslept, and the time I have before the wife and son wake up is short.
  • Why is my Chinese so bad, after all these years?  1) I don't work at it, enough.  2) no teacher   3) I don't like speaking it - damn tones!  4) I prefer to blog  5) Wuxi dialect  6) I prefer to listen to podcasts  7) I have Tony to play with  8) I am old   9) Chinese people can be clingy and so make interactions painful  10) I don't watch Chinese t.v.
  • Thankfully, I don't let my lame excuses stop me from trying to learn it.  I do spend a hour every day with my elementary Chinese grammar book trying to learn to read characters.  But when I am on the bus, I am reading it while listening to a podcast so as to block out whatever noise is being made around me.  I don't bother interacting.
  • In a conversation class about money that I taught, there was a student named Penny.
  • The school has a student named Undertaker -- good guy, actually.
  • Several students have I-Pads.  One brings it to class.
  • There were four men in a class, I taught, about shopping.  It was traumatically unsuitable to not have any women for that topic.
  • My DVD copy of Black Swan has bad English subtitles and a picture that becomes "wavy".
  • I have watched Black Swam over two evenings.  It is dark, depressing, and of its time -- modern that is.  If the characters somehow redeem themselves, it would be too sordid a tale for me to have sympathy.  The movie has lesbian scenes, blood, and overdone special effects.  I only watch it to the end because of a strange sense of commitment.  Some scenes scare Tony, but agonizing bore his jaded father.
  • The purpose of the Black Swan, I suppose, is to combine a modern girl's psychosis with a classic ballet story.  The result of modern-classical combinations these days is blood, gore, and sex.
  • Links:  Parlour games nightObserving Tony, A WTU video, Prime Minister Mango eats shamefaced Wuxi peaches, and Are Wuxi Expats the world's biggest cheapstakes?

Wuxi Tony: February 26, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Steady Downpour of rain and links

  • Sunday morning, I wake up and hear the steady pitter-patter of rain.
  • A video taken in late February 2009.
  • I have festooned my TKIC blogs with photos.  See here, here, here, and here.
  • And while I am at.  Here is a little festooning at AKIC: here, here, and here.
  • The latest TKIC prose.
  • Am I right to use the word "festoon"?  I don't care.  To me, it sounds like a happy, celebratory word, and that is good enough for me.  And what is the AKIC blogging empire but a celebration of life and the simple things that make it so enjoyable?
  • More about the Chinese fad of saying "two" (er) meaning stupid.  Yesterday, the students told me that this was a Northern habit that has migrated South.
  • A photo of AKIC and TKIC.
  • A conflict of visions in the WCE.
  • On my night stand, I have placed my old copy of James Joyce's Ulysses.  Am I going to read it cover to cover?  Probably not.  I have Tony, I have to give time to.  But, I will flip through the novel like I'd flip through a Bible or other compilation.
  • To the Chinese, the number nine is the highest examination level one can achieve.  To a Canadian, the number nine means Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Hull.  I figured this out when I conducted an English Corner about numbers.
  • Big Wave Contest.
  • I see I have given you rare readers a steady downpour of links.  Enjoy....
  • ...or else!

Tony and Andis Kaulins (Take two)

Who is behind the leg of Andis?

You can visit here to find out.

Tony and Andis Kaulins

Wuxi Tony Update #287: Hugh Hefner Wannabee

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Compendium of AKIC's Saturday Thinkings

A road near Casa K on Saturday Morning

Wuxi Andis shows off the new track he got for his son's train set.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The AKIC Friday Digest

Is this entry really a digest?  Am I right to call it so?  Could I call it a compendium?  I don't care.  So, I will call it what I like.  So, today it is a digest of AKIC's Friday internet activity.
  • Here is my Friday TKIC entry.  I blog that first every morning.  Then, I think about what to put in my AKIC and WCE blogs.
  • I should add an observation about Tony.  I noticed that the past two days, he has been taking his toy "hotwheel" cars and leaving them all over Casa K.  For example, he has left one of his cars by the keyboard, and I have been sleeping on one of his cars all night.
  • Crazy Train (take 3).  More fun sticking pocket cameras on trains.
  • The wife and child are still asleep this morning.  I get ready for work and try to get some blogging in.  I won't finish this entry till I get to work later.
  • I am at work.  I have finished one WCE Entry. (or you can view it here.)
  • The Bus Driver this morning was nuts.  He braked hard and was too hasty in his decisions to find space.
  • Have a good weekend!

Crazy Train (take three)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I have been here for a long time, not a short time.

  • Some longtime Canadian Wuxi Expat is writing a blog. If you can't access it, you can try here (pardon the look of it, it is still under construction).
  • Tony doesn't listen to me, except when I have something he wants.
  • Here is AKIC's latest video on Youku.  Funny how it is that videos about trains, especially generate my highest view numbers.  Here is my most viewed youku video.  Here is my sixth most watched.
  • Cousin Allison, who had her purse stolen, tells me she will be on Wuxi television.  She says she just did a video with a Wuxi Policeman.
  • The topic for Thursday's English Corner is Names.
  • I have shed my long johns.  Spring is coming!
  • Crazy Train (take two).

Crazy Train (take two)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back to Work for AKIC. Ugh!

  • Here are the results of the Wuxi China Expatdom Parliamentary elections.
  • Crazy Train (take one).
  • Walking around the downtown of Wuxi on Monday afternoon, I noticed that all the DVD shops were closed.  Perhaps, the cops were doing their periodical roundups of DVD shops.  It pained me because I had a hankering to buy watch some of the movies that had been nominated for Oscars.  I also confirmed that Friday's had been closed on my walkabout -- the formerly plush interior was now filled with piles of plywood.
  • Video of Train and Tractor colliding in Wuxi, China.
  • The Missing Credit Card: a story with pictures.
  • I watched a little bit of my Sons of Anarchy DVD set last night.  That is, before Tony stopped me.  I did get to watch the start of episode 12 which opened with a montage (accompanied with ponderous pop music) of the members of the bike gang waking up in the morning, and who they were waking up with.  Ope woke with his family.  Clay Morrow woke up to see she wife feeding their pet parrot.  The Wuxi-Sexpat-like-biker woke up and told the girl, he had to slept with, to leave....  Anyway, I love to see a similar montage done for some of the organizations I have been in or curious about.
  • A spectacular video where a camera is placed on a toy train.
  • I think I made reference to my trip to a photo studio yesterday afternoon.  My wife had seen that the studio (Shangri-La down the street from the Old Ronnie's location) make a special offer on the Internet.  She took up the offer and made an appointment for Tuesday, so as to get a few family portraits taken and a lot of photos of Tony taken.  The studio was filled with a lot of young women posing for cupcake style portraits of themselves, so I saw a lot of flesh.  Being married and all, I tried to concentrate on my Chinese textbook (which I had brought along because going to a photo studio in China involves lots of waiting), but it wasn't easy.  I also tried to ascertain the gender of one employee who was tall, thin, had his hair tied up like a warrior form a Chinese kung-fu serial, and wore the same uniform that all the female staff wore.  It drove me nuts to look at him/her. Finally after twenty minutes of waiting and watching this person, I asked my wife, who returned from having herself made up, what was up with "Mango."  She said the employee was a guy, and no, I couldn't dress like him.  
  • After waiting for a bit, we were able to pose for photos.  The big question of the photo session was how Tony would behave.  It turned out, he couldn't stand still when we tried to have a family portrait taken.  However, he was better when "posing" for the individual shots, because we could get to laugh, smile, and be playful.  
  • The thing that really bothered me about the studio was how filthy it was.  No one who worked there seemed interested in cleaning.  Rugs and Mats in the place could have used a good vacuuming -- the owners of the studio probably had never seen a vacuum cleaner -- not many in China have, I have learned.
  • The IEF has a new commander.
  • More photos of Tony Kaulins.
  • Protests in Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin, and now the Wuxi, China Expatdom.

Wuxi, China Crazy Train (take one)

Train and Tractor collide in Wuxi, China.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I will blog later.  I got to rouse the crew because we got to be downtwon by eleven!
For now, you can explore here and here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

02/21/2011: all twos and ones

  • Monday and Tuesday is my weekend these days.  Here I am up early on my Saturday morning, trying to get some blogging in before Jenny and Tony arise.  They sleep now in each other's arm.  I am jealous in a way -- I console myself because I am happy to have Tony fall asleep in my arms in the evening. 
  • Jenny tells me that we have an appointment to go to a photo studio on Tuesday (AKIC Sunday) and pose for some family portraits.  Suddenly, I think I will have to get a haircut -- I have been putting off doing this for months because involves an out-of-the-way trip to the only barber in this town I can trust.  But now my hair is so fun to whip and tossle about, even though it is proportioned all wrong, and I have a gaping bald spot.
  • I was able to watch "The Social Network" on DVD Sunday night (AKIC Friday).  I thought it was a fine film, but I could't help but think it would not the stand the test of time.  Films based on current technology all seem to date themselves very quickly. 
  • The film brought back bad memories from my time as an undergraduate in the eighties.  In high school, I remembering having this desire to get into politics (I wanted to be a legislative page) but it was thwarted by a lack of money and "a social network".  I then decided that the thing to do was to study computers -- it was the right thing at that time.  However, I failed at it when I got to university -- either I wasn't smart enough and/or was foolish in my whole approach to the university experience.  I remember wandering around university corridors not knowing what to do with myself.  The real "Andis" was somehow being thwarted by circumstances I thought I had no control over. By the time, I realized I did have control, I had put myself in such a deep hole.  I worked myself out of this hole thankfully but it wasn't glamorous, and it was lonely.  It is the responsibility that I now have to Tony and Jenny that I see as my way of redeeming myself.  Still, I will always be cursed to watch movies about university life like "the Social Network" and slap myself like the man in the "V8" commercial.  But I also know now that I must fight the temptation to fall into despair.
  • I take it that the makers of the Social Network mustn't like the Internet. For you have a movie about the most important and remarkable developments of our age and it is so unheroic in its depictions.  I recall the Civilisation series done by Sir Kenneth Clark where he described the heroism involved in the making of the railway and bridge networks in England around the time of the industrial revolution.  One of the engineers Clark mentioned in the series was "in love with the impossible."  What moves the pioneers of the Internet?  If you believe the Social Network, a desire to transcend one's nerdiness.
  • I have heard that Fridays, a.k.a. TGIF, in downtown Wuxi has closed down.  I never went there much myself because I couldn't afford it and Jenny did care so much for it.  As well, I wasn't so far removed from North America as ti be bored by the whole upscale burger and fry joint atmosphere -- there were tons of those kinds of restaurants in B.C. I remember.  Still, TGIF Wuxi always seemed crowded when I walked past it.  So I was surprised to hear the news about its closure.  I wonder now if maybe some Starbucks in Wuxi will be closing.  There is one downtown next to a KFC that is always deserted.  Some Saturdays, I have gone past to see no customers while the nearby KFC is packed.
  • Now, Tony calls me.  He is saying "get up!"  What he should say is "I am getting up!".  What it means for me I will have to publish this entry now.  I pray there are not too many typos, errors in logic, and grammarical mistakes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sunday: the last day of the AKIC week of work....

.....if you can call it that.

  • Should I shirk work to go to church?
  • I was told on Saturday that many locals were going downtown to shop and buy things before prices go up on Monday. Inflation, they told me, is coming to Wuxi.
  • The Saga of the Blue Toy
  • A student told me that China and America have always been friends. He mentioned what America did to help China in WW 2. I asked him about the Korean War and he said that North Korea invaded South Korea, and so that didn't contradict his statement.
  • A new comedy club will open up in the Wuxi China Expatdom
  • Sunday morning on the way to school, I saw a little motorcycle-wagon combo vehicle filled with lettuce. The lettuce was strapped into the trailer like folded cardboard boxes would be strapped on a back of an overload. It made me shudder.
  • Outlaw Electric Bicycle Gang terrorizes Wuxi, China nightclub.
  • I've just completed a "hypothetical situations" conversation class. I asked the students what they would take out of home if it was burning and they had but two minutes to get out. Two of the teenaged students said they would take out their homework.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who is Hooligan Rabbit?

  • The topic for my conversation class, last night, was animals.  During the discussions, one of the students asked if I have heard of a rabbit character that was known to the Chinese as "Hooligan Rabbit"?  I immediately thought of Bugs Bunny and asked the student if the rabbit character, he was talking about, like to eat carrots and was always outsmarting his enemies.  The student told me Hooligan Rabbit did do these things.  I grew up watching Bugs Bunny I told the student.
  • Tony gets yet more track for his train set.  Read this account or that account of the dramatic, history-making, paradigm-changing, consensus-forming purchase.
  • Friday evening, I happened to be at HOLA -- House of Living Art, a Japanese version of Ikea in the Wuxi's Baoli Shopping Mall.  I was there to pick up my wife and son.  I went there after work, so it was 930 pm, closing time for the store.  I saw my wife in a long line-up at cashiers.  I took Tony from her so I could play with him in the mall area outside the store.  It was while out there, that I heard some screaming.  My first thought was that Jenny was arguing.  When my wife shops, she is like a iron rod -- she is all business and you wouldn't want to cross her.  Thankfully, when I returned to the store, she wasn't the one screaming.  What I did get to see were two pairs of women, I didn't know, screaming at each other.  They pointed fingers at each other, as they screamed, in Wuxi Dialect, and had to be physically restrained from each other.  They screamed at each other non-stop for a good five minutes as they waited in line.  What I thought had happened, and Jenny later confirmed this, was that the women were arguing over who would take the last item from a clearance table.  I was half-hoping, I am ashamed to admit, for them to come to blows.  Thankfully, they didn't and I can do penance for this by telling you how I honestly felt at the time. (*Writing a blog, there is always the problem of what to blog about everyday.  Witnessing Brawls and Fights makes blogging easy.*)
  • One of our sales girls went to Dubai for the holidays.  I had to ask a few times to confirm that she had gone to the Dubai that is in the Middle East.  What did she do there?  To go shopping.
  • One thing I forgot to mention about the K Boys exploring a park, an old factory, and a canal:  After our exploration of the area, we returned to the road to catch a bus back to Casa K (our apartment).  I was carrying Tony on my shoulders.  I suppose we were quite the sight for passing motorists:  a laowai with his son  on his shoulders, walking along the highway -- a laowai is a rare enough sight as it is in the area of Casa K.  I thought about this after I noticed, in a passing bus, a driver motioning to a passenger to turn around and catch a glance at us.
  • Something tells me it is all happening at the Wuxi, China Expatdom where the search for the missing Wuxi Expats, sort of, continues.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I ride a double-decker bus to work, and publish a photo essay.

  • Here is the link to an extended photo essay I have published about a recent visit Tony and I made to an area with a park, cabbage fields, an abandoned factory, and a canal.  I should try to do more of these essays -- they require time and me to clean my prose.  I vow, that for now, I will try to do at least one a week.  I bloggeth too hastily, I do.  I need to spend more of my blogging time making quality entries, instead of throwing up photos and writings half-dashed as I have been.
  • I bought Tony an addition to his train set.  I have written two accounts of this here and here.
  • I took a double-decker bus to get to school this morning.  I took the 610 bus downtown because it showed up first at the stop near my home and had unoccupied seats.  Taking the 610 means I have to transfer to another bus to get downtown.  At the downtown stop, I saw a girl from work board the 81 double-decker bus, and I asked her if that bus  would stop by the school.  It did, but it felt strange to go all the way to the back of the bus's upper floor when I was going to be getting off in just three stops anyway.
  • More silliness happening in the Wuxi China Expatdom.
  • Yesterday, I had a record number of views on AKIC wordpress.
  • I watched the first ten minutes of the Social Network -- it looks interesting.  One of these days, I will have the time to sit and watch the entire flick.
  • Tony on the computer while I am in bed trying to fall asleep.  He is watching two minute videos of trains.  He runs into the bedroom when the videos are finished and gest me out of bed to start another video for him.  I make him give me a kiss and find my slippers before I assist him.
  • What I believe and what I am -- is there a conflict?  Yes.  But it is a conflict borne from inaction and not hypocrisy.  I don't readily say what I think.  I don't readily practice what I believe.
  • One student attended my English Corner on Thursday afternoon, and she would barely talk.  I had chosen the topic of Sympathy and Empathy.  She understood the topic, I think, answering questions slowly but corrrectly.  But she got confused when I asked questions to test she knew the concept.  She said she had no sympathy for people beyond her family. (I would say I have much more sympathy than empathy in me.  I'm in the same boat with no one.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!

It being the Lantern Festival today, I am doing a rare 9 to 5 shift.  I can't think if I have ever done one in my life before.  Usually, I have worked evenings or long 6 to 6 days.

The point of the Lantern Festival, I think, is to go out in the evening and look at traditional lanterns that have been strewn about the town.  I don't know if the K family is going to do that Chances are, I will go home and wrestle with him while trying to convince him that he should let me watch my movie on the DVD player -- fat chance that will happen.

Here are some links and other assorted bon mots:
  • Tony takes off his clothes by himself.
  • Tony calls a ball a "qiu" (球).  He likes to chase after the ball and throw it around with his father.  
  • This afternoon's English Corner topic is Sympathy and Empathy.
  • Missing Wuxi Expats Update.
  • I thought a woman said "Yeye" to me when I took Tony into a small shop to buy groceries.  Asking my wife about this later, she told me "Yeye" meant grandfather.  Did the woman think I was Tony's grandfather?
  • Gorzo won't be having dinner with Barrack.
  • I had finished drinking my case of Tsingtao beer.  So I took the empties to my corner store to buy another case.  Just my luck, there was no cases of Tsingtao left so I bought a case of Snow Beer.  Onlookers in the shop were surprised when I said I would carry the case home myself.  "Oh! So heavy!" said one local.
  • Wuxi Taihu Lakers win!
  • I bought another set of ear phones for my mobile phone yesterday.  25 rmb they set me back.  I have previously had to buy two other sets of ear phones for the phone.  What inevitably happens is that one of the earphones stops working a week after I buy it, and so I have to put up with mono sound when listening to podcasts.
  • Gorzo and Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov 
  • One of the podcasts I am listening to is of a Canadian Radio Talk show.  An email, to the host, complaining about the poor quality of appliances made these days immediately let to mention of China.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Doris got a postcard!

Links and notes:


Tony and Andis besides a Canal -- Take Two

Tony and Andis besides a Canal -- Take One

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wuxi Tony Update: Toy Cars and Colour Identification 02/14/2011

The day after

  • It is the day after yesterday.  What else can be said?
  • Tony 02/15/2011
  • Will 02/11/2011 be a day we will never forget?  Will it be a day that we can tell our children and grandchildren we were paying attention?  Will it one day become the official holiday of Egypt?
  • The casting for the Wuxi China Expatdom movie.
  • Find out all the latest news about the Wuxi China Expatdom here.
  • Get more fab Tony K stuff here.
  • V Day in Wuxi.  I saw many men carrying vases full of flowers.  One restaurant had so many of these vases brought that they had to be left outside.
  • I am looking for a good DVD copy of True Grit.  So far, I haven't seen one.  The one that is available, I have been told, is not very good.
  • Mark Levin, fabulous Right Talk Radioist, makes being snarky so fun.  When a lib-dem-progressive type says something thoughtless (the discourse is so uncivil, the teabaggers are racist, America always props up dictators, ad nauseum cetra), he cuts them off.  He doesn't waste his time with foolishness.
  • AKIC went to school to do some classes on Monday evening.  Tony cried when he left home and he was so touched.
  • Tony fell asleep his head on his father's shoulders.  This beats going to the pub any night of the week.
  • 什么颜色?

All about Tony Kaulins 02/15/2011

  • Tony is putting garbage in garbage cans without being told.  His parents worry that he is sometimes throwing non-garbage items in the cans.
  • Tony lined up his toy cars on a table making for a grand photo which his father duly took.
  • Monday morning, Tony was screaming at the top of lungs in bed.  Possibly he was trying to rouse his mother by scaring her.
  • Tony will hide things from his parents.  The latest thing he hid was a combination tool.  His father had been using it to fix one of Tony's toy trains.
  • Tony can now say "thank you very much!"
  • Tony will look in drawers for things he needs whether they be drinking straws or toy cars.  What will "help-himself Tony" help himself to next?  Visit this site every day to find out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Back to the Now!

  • I have used up all my CNY photos. Time to get back to the now!
  • Getting Tony to pose Chinese style.
  • I did an English Corner about Complaining on Friday evening.  The students all agreed that complaining was a good way to get a conversation, or dialogue, started.  They also thought the idea of a "complain" party was funny and strangely appealing.
  • The latest photos of Tony.  Having published all my CNY photos that are marginally worthy of actually being published, I revert to taking photos of Tony making faces.
  • Waiting for the bus Friday evening, I was approached by a Chinese man who was taller than me.  He asked me where I was going.  Thinking he was wanting to be my guide, I told him I was going home and that I had lived in Wuxi for over six years.  It turned out that he was a student in the Netherlands back for the Spring Festival holiday.  His plan was to find a job in the Netherlands.  I asked him if he was a Dutch citizen, and he told me he wasn't but that because he had a master's degree, he could look for a job in Holland -- something I didn't know.  I got around to asking him, because he was tall, about his shoe size.  He said he was a 44 which disappointed me because I was hoping he could tell me, a size 46, where I could get shoes in Wuxi.  Being taller than me, he said he had a hard time finding clothes in Wuxi that could fit him.
  • Tony on the couch.  A cool photo.  Really.
  • As I said in the previous entry: snow in Wuxi.
  • Tony and Jenny.  Tony's expression is priceless.
  • Jovi Bon Jon is coming to the Wuxi China Expatdom.
  • One of blogs has been referred to by the Linday Lohan blog.  That's what it says in the referrals section of my wordpress dashboard.
  • Saturday TKIC.
  • I will go for dinner Sunday evening with people from Siemens.
  • Rock and Roll Tony!
  • Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  All these pretty Chinese girls tell me they have no plans because they don't have a boyfriend, or as one girl said "lover!"

Getting Tony to pose Chinese style

JKIC tries to teach TKIC how to make a "V" while posing for a photo.
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Out the window I look, and what do I see?
Anyway, I will definitely be wearing a heavy jacket on my trip to school.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Era begins at AKIC

What new era? AKIC has entered the post Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicle phase of its' entry publishing.
Links and Notes:
  • Wuxi China Expatdom: the movie.
  • Good Night Tony?: A short story.
  • Tony usually hogs the TV and DVD player at home. But I was able to watch The Gauntlet starring Clint Eastwood over Tony's protestations. There was enough visual action featuring motorcycles, trains, buses, guns, and helicopters to keep Tony's interest. The Gauntlet was a fun movie to watch. Clint looked cool on a Harley. But it is not a movie I will watch again. The scenes with the cops firing lots and lots of guns and rounds at buses and houses were silly. The movie plot could have gone on just as well without those scenes.
  • What I did on the last day of my CNY holiday.
  • I read on the Internet that China was censoring coverage of events in Egypt because people were converging at a square with a T-name. But when I was in Beixin, I was only able to get any news about Egypt on CCTV9, China's only English channel. They didn't mention the T-word but they did talk of protesters wanting democracy. The question is what was shown on the Chinese language news shows.
  • I was probably the only person in Beixin who gave a hoot about what was happening in Egypt.
  • Coming back to Wuxi, I was able to get more perspective about the events in Egypt. But I have to conclude that no one really knows what is happening in Egypt. The causes are complex and the best thing other world leaders can do is keep a tight lip and deal with whatever the end result of the crisis will be.
  • So far, none of the students seem to know anything about what is happening in Egypt.
  • Tony rushes the stage.
  • Interestingly, my blog is now giving me some connections in the town my Parents live: Brandon Manitoba, Canada. Here is the website of a Wuxiren who has lived in Brandon since 1991. Here is are some links (one and two) for a Brandon Sun Photographer who is very familiar with China.
  • Modern China, circa 2011.
  • The garbage in China disgusts me. How do the people put up with it?
  • A group photo.
  • Who's that?

Lovely Modern China Scenery

I took these photos on the last day of my CNY holiday. I took a bus with Tony for something to do. We got off the bus at what I thought was an interesting spot. I took the following photos:

This is modern China circa 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thus Concludeth the Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles

  • The students don't know much about what is happening in Egypt.   I figured as much.  That is the only thing I want to talk about.
  • What is Tony up to?
  • The drip, drip, drip, of an apartment neighbor cheating on their water meter can drive one mad like Chinese water torture.
  • The first inductee in the Wuxi Expat Hall of Fame has been announced.
  • It is nice to not be the only trainer who spent time out in a countryside village for the CNY.  Another trainer went with his brother in a village for a week.  He complained of no hot showers, garbage, filth, so much smoking, and boredom.  He, like me, had to go for long walks around the area because of having nothing to do.
  • None of the students know what the Super Bowl is.  They never do.
  • I just had a student mention T-Square when I told him about what was happening in Egypt.

Photo links:
Day Six (February 6) of the Beixin Odyssey was spent waiting for the bus that would take us back to Wuxi.  It left at 1310.  We arrived back in Wuxi at 300 pm.

I will chronicle the last days of our CNY holiday.

Severed Heads Three

Is this the Meat you would want to eat?

Countryside Truck

It has no steering wheel or hood.

Rooftop views of Beixin

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles: Day Five

  • Tony misplaces a toy car that I had bought for him just the day before.  I looked all over the apartment for it.  After ten minutes, I found the car but my first reaction was to keep looking for it.  I have spent so much time on fruitless searches for Tony's lost toys that I expect instinctively to not find them.
  • At TKIC
Day Five  (February 5) of my Beixin Chinese New Year Odyssey was my last full day in Beixin.  We had a bus ticket to leave at 1310 on Day Six:
  • I am awake early this morning though I can't say I got up early.  I look at all the text files I have loaded on my mobile phone.  I read snatches of Shakespeare, Chesterton, O'Connor, the Bible, and Jewish wisdom.  They make that moment in Beixin tolerable.
  • Still, I haven't been active or taken initiative.  I've been letting time pass.  Is there anything I could do to be of use to these people?
  • I take Tony to the gravel pit so he can play with rocks.  While there, I see an old man rummaging through piles of garbage.  In his three wheel cart, I see empty bottles and lettuce leaves.  I hope he wasn't rummaging for lettuce in the garbage.
  • Back at the in-laws' compound, Tony won't let me leave.
  • Tony wants to watch Baba (his grandfather) play Mah Jong.  The problem is too cigarette smoke in the Mah Jong Room.
  • Late in the afternoon, I am finally able to sneak out of the compound to visit the student who is working on his PhD in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He invites me to say at his home for a big CNY feast his family is having.  I accept the invitation.  I get a tour of his house which is three storeys high.  One part of the house overlooks a canal and the other side overlooks a Beixin street.  While up on the third floor, the student makes a comment about how he told his father that Beixin is so full of garbage and that something should be done.  I ask the student why the local government doesn't pay someone to clean Beixin up, and he tells me that the local government may not have the money to do this, or the money gets pocketed.  His father then joins us and throws two perfectly good plastic bags into the canal.
  • Next door to the student's home, I see the neighbors have a goat in their backyard.  The goats live near a canal-side pile of garbage.
  • Supper at the student's home is wonderful.  I nibble on some green beans and sip XO brandy with cola.
  • "We don't worry about politics.  We just drink and eat."  They tell me at the dinner.
  • Kong Ming Dan. (see links above for videos of this)  The latest CNY Fad they tell me.  Cloths soaked in diesel are tied to wire attached to a big plastic bag.  When the diesel cloths are lit, they cause the air in the plastic bag to expand.  The plastic bag can float and soar in the air.  Good quality KMD's can stay in the sky for days.  Cheaper ones fall to the ground after twenty minutes.  When the KMD's land, they sometimes cause fires that burn people or property.  I get to launch one myself.  They are sold at many shops for 2 rmb a piece.
  • The student shows me photos from his visit to Manchester United's stadium.
  • Tony gets a boo-boo after slamming a door on his hand.  The fireworks have been causing him to close all the doors in the in-laws' compound to dullen the sound.

Chinese New Year Kong Ming Dan #3

Chinese New Year Kong Ming Dan #2

In this video, I watch a Kong Ming Dan being lit and launched, with hilarious results.

Chinese New Year Kong Ming Dan

When I took this video, I didn't know what the flying lanterns were called in Chinese.

Back to Work

I was back to work yesterday.

Judging by the amount of fireworks I have heard this morning all along my way to work, I guess a lot of Wuxi locals are returning to work today from their CNY break.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles: Day Four

Day Four of the Beixin Odyssey was February 4, 2011.  Boredom is setting in.
  • I watched some big-budget Chinese movie about a Tall Buddha being constructed during the preparations for an Empress's coronation.  I think it was called Tong Tian Dee Guo.
  • Getting my Egypt news from CCTV9.  Why does every government leader of every foreign country have to make statements?  They are saying nothing.  I would love to hear someone endorse the violence for the sake of being contrarian.
  • Tony was the first to get up.
  • Breakfast: black bean balls and jube-jubes.
  • Touristy commercials on CCTV9 show things I would see every day in Wuxi -- high-arched bridges, and people banging on drums.
  • "China will win the future with soft-power." I am watching CCTV9 again.
  • Tony does a happy dance.
  • How's my Chinese New Year?  I can't complain.  Some would say it is dull.  But every one's been nice.  What much of the world thinks as excitement has a price.  Excitement draws us away from what is important.  Excitement brings out the asshole in many.  Excitement means hanging out with assholes.  Better to be stuck with simple souls... (I make a note to change "assholes" to base elements).
  • Heat are beating the Magic by 21 points.  NBA basketball still seems like a big shooting contest.  I can't see the tactics being employed.
  • Magic end up with last shot that would have tied the game.
  • Wuxi China Expatdom idea:  Denmark criticizes WCE for tickling during interrogations and so not taking the war seriously.
  • Tony and his cousin wrestle and embrace each other.  They think this is the funniest thing.  Why?
  • I have to remind myself to see things through Tony's eyes.
  • Nanxin is three stops from Beixin.  I read signs on buses and ask Jenny questions.
  • Kung Fu hero uses baby fart, baby piss, and his own stinky feet to to defeat a gang attacking him.
  • Jenny and Tony go to Taixing.  I nap and then go for a walk.  I see old houses and fields and garbage and slimy water and chickens and ducks.
  • King Ming Dan: flying lanterns launched into air, rising up to a thousand feet.  The lanterns operate like manned balloons.  A flame is lit below the lantern heating and expanding the gas in the lantern and so causing it to float upwards.
  • Should have taken photo of people gutting eels at the nearby open market. But  I was too shy to do so.  It was such a bloody scene I missed showing you.
  • I read signs to pass the time and improve my Chinese.  I see the character that I know now is for tooth.  I guess I am about to pass a dentist's office.  I pass the sign and see a dental chair that confirms my guess.

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: Photos of Beixin.

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: Mother-In-Law plays pool.

Back to Work!

My Spring Festival Break is over, and so I must try to wrap my head around the little bit of work I got to do at school.

The Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles: Day Three

First some links:
Day Three of the K family odyssey to Beixin was February 3:
  • Happy New Year!
  • The routine is to go on rounds of visits to relatives and friends in the area.
  • We first went to an elderly aunt and uncle's house which was exceedingly primitive.  I would also say it was peasant-like.  It was a small brick hovel, one half of which was set aside for the grinding of grains which was done with stone and straw implements.  Cooking instruments were also very basic.  The house shrine featured a portrait of Chairman Mao(!?!).  There was a television.  The latrine was a hole in the ground -- the uncle and aunt must do their business in a chamber pot.  We had the damnedest time trying to keep a curious Tony away from the latrine hole.
  • Other houses we went to on the rounds had lots of floor space, and many floors.  Make a close inspection of the houses and one sees they are made of cheap brick and concrete covered with ugly tiling.  Some of the houses have stairways without railings -- I worried for Tony's safety.
  • Tony has an older male cousin to horse around with.
  • CCTV9 shows riot scenes fro Tahir Square in Cairo.  Mesmerizing.  I tune in constantly for updates.
  • Tony cuts his hand in the fold of his skin between the thumb and index finger.  This stops him from horsing around.  He sits quietly and watches his Dora DVD.
  • I take a 2-hour nap in the afternoon.  There is nothing else to do.  CNY is dull!
  • After nap, I play billiards with my mother-in-law.  Mama wins the last two games.  We play in the pool hall which is next door to Mama and Baba's compound.  The pool hall is primitive:  there are no racks, sticks are old and fractured, and the ball bounces off the table sides -- two times I had a routine rebound shot ruined as the cue ball jumped over its' target.
  • I see two men play badminton in the dark.
  • Tony naps at suppertime.  He fell asleep on my shoulders when I took him for a walk.
  • I read Ezra Pound poetry and Genesis to pass the time.
  • Nudism versus Naturism.  Naturism is nakedness in accordance with natural law; Nudism is nakedness that sees clothing as unnatural.  A minor sect of Nudism sees their nakedness as being in compliance with natural law because they believe clothes are not in accordance with natural law.
  • I am thinking of a Wuxi China Expatdom narrative in which the WCE parliament has two parties: Naturist and Nudist.
  • Shuimian (水面) is noodle flour, or as Jenny says "make yourself noodles."
  • A group of young men see me.  They approach and one of them gives me a cigarette.  I try to ask them what they do but they won't tell me.

Chinese New Year's Fireworks: Andis's father-in-law lets some off

Chinese New Year Fireworks in Beixin, Jiangsu, China

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: Meat and Fish

That's Jenny besides the basins of meat and fish.

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: Father-In-Law

My father-in-law preparing meat for the CNY feast.

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: Pre-CNY Traffic

The main street in Beixin was busy in the days before CNY day.

The Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles: Day Two.

  • I saw the Packers beat the Steelers in the comfort of my apartment here in Wuxi, China, Monday morning local time.  The game was good.  The half-time show was terrible.  Why didn't they do something for the Ronald Reagan Centenary?
  • I had a real shower for the first time in a week.  My in-laws heat their water with solar panels.  Go figure.
  • Here is a photo of my in-laws.
  • Catching up on my blogging and podcast-listening seems an impossible task.
  • Tony said.
  • A great video of Tony with a girl on youku.  Or you can watch it on youtube.
  • A walk in Beixin Town.  A walk in the Beixin Countryside.
  • Tony plays with gravel.
  • The boat.
  • Tony on the boat.
Day Two of the Beixin Chronicles (the official log of my time spent in Beixin for the start of the Year of the Rabbit):
  • It is February 2.  New Year's Eve is tonight.  For the longest time, I had thought that February 2 was the first day of the lunar new year because of the dates we were given off from school.
  • Feeling useless.  As all prepare for the CNY eve's activities, I watch.
  • I do look after Tony.
  • But it is not an easy task so I have convinced Jenny to buy her parents a new DVD player.  Tony can watch his Dora DVDs.  We can now think and have some peace and quiet.  Tony doesn't know what to do with himself.
  • The in-laws compound is too close to the road.  The trucks zooming by make the house shake and shake.
  • Everywhere I go in Beixin, I hear them say "laowai!"  Jenny stops me from yelling "Zhongguoren" back at them.  She correctly points out that I am a remarkable sight in Beixin, and cut them some slack.
  • Old men pedalling their bikes down the road.  It briefly feels like I am in Mao's China as depicted in an issue of Life Magazine.
  • All the buildings in Beixin are decorated with red posters and sashes for tonight.
  • The loud pops and booms of fireworks scare Tony.
  • I take Tony for a long walk and suddenly feel overdressed.  In the evening, I need long johns and a toque.  In the day time, it gets up to fifteen degrees Celsius.
  • Said David Warren, walking is a great way to ascertain the spirit (the zeitgeist?) of a place.  I see people are moving and getting stuff.  Otherwise, it seems very soulless.
  • Tony can answer "or" questions now.  This morning, I ask him is he wants to sleep or get up.  He answers sleep.
  • My first shower of the Odyssey is primitive.  I get a trinkle of hot water from the shower head.  I later see that the in-laws' compound has a solar panel.
  • My in-laws can gut fish, cook, kill and tear apart animals for meat, and use primitive appliances skillfully.
  • I couldn't find my sock.  I looked and looked and looked.  The sock wasn't anywhere to be seen. But then it turned out I had put both socks on one foot.
  • CNY eve's supper was big.
  • Jenny's Father's brother is 84.  He was born in the year of Rabbit.
  • I smoked a cigarette from a 140 rmb pack. (I pay 5 rmb a pack)  The cigarette had a nice-looking filter, but it didn't taste expensive.
  • At supper time, I noticed the roads were completely empty because of CNY's eve.  I had to go for a walk to take in the quiet and soak in some sanity.  I then listen to a podcast about GKC and all seemed right with the world.
  • All the trash that gets thrown on the street is burnt, on the street.
  • Fireworks here seem more like explosives.  The only nice ones I saw were actually over-sized sparklers that were fizzy, colourful, and bursting low to the ground.  Little kids watching them jumped up and down in joy.
  • I spend New Year's Eve in bed with Tony.  He falls asleep around eleven.  Jenny watches television, and later joins us.  At midnight, of course, a lot of fireworks are let off.

A Walk in Beixin, China during the Chinese New Year

A Walk in the Chinese Countryside

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Beixin Chinese New Year Chronicles: Day One.

Here are some other links you may want to check out before proceeding to the Chronicles of Time Wasted:
This is the first entry of the Beixin (北新) Kaulins Family 2011 Chinese New Year Chronicles.  Not having had access to a computer or even a hand-held device where I could type notes, I had to resort to the primitive way of journalizing with a pen and a notebook -- I know Orwell did this sort of thing when he was fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and the work he came up with (Homage to Catalonia) was eternally cool.  So why not? 
So, I have transcribed from the notebooks to the blog.

Day One, February 1, the K family took the bus from Wuxi to Beixin, passing Jiangyin along the way.  We arrived in Beixin about eleven a.m.

  • Phoned taxi to pick us up from Casa K.  Good Service.
  • We got on the bus no probs.
  • A news sports centre is being built in Jiangyin, I noticed.
  • Roads were very crowded in the countryside as people bought whatever they needed for the upcoming CNY.  The bus had to creep through the crowds carefully.
  • While on the bus, I saw a woman stopped her bike quickly so that the front tire buckled and her child fell to the pavement.
  • I saw a group of men with Dragon Dance gear - a first.  Contrary to Western conceptions, it is not easy to see Dragon Dances in China during the CNY.
  • Carrying Tony on my shoulders as I took a walk through Beixin Town, Tony said "sleepy", and then maneuvered himself down so he could rest his head on my shoulders.  That was a first. That is, the first time he told me that he was about to fall asleep.
  • In the afternoon, I met a student studying for his PhD. in micro-laser engineering in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He was in Beixin for the Chinese New Year.  I got to drink some Grant's  Whiskey and smoke some Marlborughs brought all the way from Scotland.  The student told me he was on a scholarship from the Scottish government which I found hard to believe -- I asked him several times if he wasn't getting a scholarship from the Chinese government but he said he was getting it from the Scots.  Scotland, he said, was a clean country with wonderful blue skies.  Scots, he noted, liked to drink and watch football.  His English was good but not great.
  • For the first time, Tony and I were able to walk on these long boats that are ubiquitous on the canals of Jiangsu.  I took photo and video.  Interesting though these boats are to a casual observer, I couldn't imagine living and working on those things -- space is narrow.  One detail that I never picked up on till I walked in the cabin was that a ten foot ladder leads to a basement where people sleep.
  • The Inlaws' compound is close to the road.  Trucks speeding down the outside road are but ten feet from the head of the beds.
  • The In-laws now have a chicken coop in their compound, which means they have fresh eggs and later, fresh meat。



Andis and Tony board a boat in Beixin, China

The Beixin CNY Chronicles: The Compound

This is the first entry of the official chronicle of the Kaulins Family trip to Beixin, China. Most of the K family time in Beixin was spent above at the "compound" of Jenny's parents.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

AKIC is back!

AKIC has just arrived at Casa K. 
The K family spent six days out in Beixin (北新)to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
AKIC has lots of videos and photos and comments to publish about the six days.  But for now....
Happy 100th birthday!  President Reagan!