Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wuxi Subway Construction Update: July 2011, Xicheng Road

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Carry on Blogging!

  • A student tells me he likes to play with chemicals in his room.
  • Another student is going to a Catholic High School in Plattsburgh, New York.   America, he says, is a Catholic country.
  • Another student is going to a high school in Tennessee.  You have to go to the mansion of the Cat King -- we call him Elvis.
  • Forgot to bring my Chinese textbooks with me.  What a silly boy!
  • I asked some students in a class if their parents had been affected by the financial crisis of 2008.  Everyone of them said their parents worked in government.  So they were not affected.
  • Damn!  My shoes got holes in them.  I was teaching a class and I thought I had gum sticking to the soles.  It turned out that a piece of sole was dangling.  I got married in those shoes.  I hate to stop wearing them.
  • A student told me that his father was a twin.  How,  I asked, could he tell the difference between them.  He said it was very easy.
  • I learned this as I asked the students who was the most beautiful person in their life.  I made a joke about how they would all tell me their twin brother or sister.
  • Tony has been really disagreeable lately.  I had a slapping match with him on the bus on Friday evening.  He wanted something he couldn't have, and I became the object of his ire.
  • The students think Cowboys are cool and also very American.
  • Who is China's biggest rival?  I asked a group of students and they told me America.  A few said Japan.  I asked them if they thought Russia was a rival and they said it was China's friend.  They had no opinion about India being a rival.
  • Beauty and Goodness.  I tried to talk to students about these concepts in a conversation class.  I hoped I could get them to separate the two in their minds.  Beauty being a visual and an oral thing (in the case of music).  Goodness having to do with the proper use of a thing.  The students didn't want to make the separation, and they were perhaps right to do so.  I have come across this article about beauty and goodness.  I read that "both of these words have narrowed in modern times, so that it's much more of a stretch to make the connection than it used to be."  The Greeks had a word that could mean both beauty and goodness at the same time.  The students were looking for that word.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to work?

  • Back to workie?  Or should I say back to shirkie? 
  • I think I should say back to workie!
  • Humidity.  That is still the central fact of my life these days.  I can't hardly wait till September.
  • Back to work.  What fresh horrors await me? 
  • Actually not many.  We are busy which is good.
  • Should I weigh in on the U.S. debt crisis? 
  • What the hell!  The way it is going, the U.S. will default.  It would be only a question of when.  Most of the federal politicians in the U.S. don't seem to want to do what has to be done to reign in the debt and make tough choices about spending.  They raise the prospect of taxing the rich more and closing tax loopholes as a way out of the mess.  The spending cuts they promise won't take effect for five to ten years.  Anyone who points this out to them is called ideological and racist.  I am afraid the end result will be a kicking of a can down the road.  At least, a debate is being had.  The only politicians looking good in this are the "intransigent" tea partiers.
  • Several Chinese I talked to were at all aware of what happened in Norway.
  • They were aware of the high speed rail track.  There is such track a fifteen minutes scooter ride from Casa K.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Observations published on a Monday in late July 2011

  • Fake Apple Stores in China?!?  Who would have thunk it?  So, I have to wonder if my Ipad is real.
  • The killer in Norway was crazy and evil.  He was not a reflection on anyone's society or beliefs.  He is a manifestation of the fact that no society can exist without jails -- evil impulses exist in all of us.  No much else can be said.  But that won't stop people.
  • This mass-murder appears to be a victory for the Leftists.  Why does it have to be that when these things happen, many seem to pray, not for the victims, but that the perpetrator is from the other side?
  • The din (is that the right word?  I will use it. I don't care.) at a restaurant I went to on Saturday night was overwhelming.  We had found a seat in the corner of a packed restaurant where apparently a wedding was taking place.  For about twenty minutes I saw people engaging in drinking games and I found I couldn't hear myself think.  But the food was so good.
  • What should you do for someone on their lunar birthday?    Answer at the end of this entry.
  • Amy Winehouse is dead.  I heard of her before she died but I hadn't listened to any of her music till I heard of her death.  The song Back to Black I find quite haunting especially since the video showed Winehouse at a funeral.
  • Moon them!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Humid observations

  • Too hot.  I am staying indoors.
  • I went through the Taihu Tunnel for the first time.  The tunnel runs along Taihu Avenue.  Taihu runs from Auxiang Supermarket in the New District to Li Hu.  The tunnel which is about a mile long, it would seem, takes one under lord knows what, but it ends near Auxiang.  As far as I can recall there are no rivers in the area near Auxiang.  I asked the students and they told me that the tunnel may have something to do with the subway system that is currently being built.
  • I asked the students yesterday, in my English Corner, to name some famously infamous people.  They could only think of two: Adolf Hitler and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Both of these guys are Austrian.  What does that tell you?
  • Visit here for Swedish Bikini Team Search 2011 Updates.
  • After-accident scene I saw last night as I waited for the bus:  A pedestrian and a scooter had collided.  The pedestrian had blood dripping from a cut on his knee.  The scooter driver was picking up some boxes strewn on the payment.  They were screaming at each other. Four security guards and three staff woman from a nearby building joined the scene.  Jenny told me that they were all waiting for the police to come.  Apparently, it was the scooter driver that wanted the police to come.  Looking at the scene, I would have thought that both had lost in the collision and that it wasn't worth going to court about.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Arnis Kaulins!

July 23 is my father's birthday.

He and my mother Aina are retired and living in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

I wish I was with them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You are number one!

I have this student who uses his middle finger to push up his glasses that have slid down his nose.
Very disconcerting to see the middle finger through the whole class.
I believe the student isn't do this intentionally.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sitting in a Cafeteria

Monday evening we tried out a recently-opened cafeteria-style restaurant in a shopping mall near our home in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi, China.  The food wasn't nothing special.  However, two sights will stick in my memory from the visit:
  • I stared at a poster of Comrade Mao Zedong.  I could read the Chinese characters under his photo, I thought to myself.  I then wondered if we had to pay for the meal.
  • Tony saw a kiddie train ride in the plaza square outside the restaurant.  First, Tony stood on his chair to get a better look.  I knew right then that we would eventually have to pay for a kiddie train ride.  I observed Tony slowly but surely drift toward the restaurant's exit and closer to the kiddie ride.  Three times he went to the exit, and came back.  One time, I could see him struggling with himself.  It turned out that he was summoning courage.  At last, he bolted and ran across the plaza and got on one of the three kiddie train cars.  I could see the attendants looking around and wondering where his parents were so they could pay.  Tony's mother Jenny said Tony was being sneaky.  I don't know if he was sneaky but he was obeying his immediate desires.  I never forget watching the sprint to the kiddie ride.  It was amazing.  I could imagine the shock of the people already by the kiddie ride.  It must have had an effect on them like an ambush.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The view from the Eighty One Double Decker Bus

Questions about raising twins.

I just taught a student who I learned had twin sons, both about three years old.  Having to spend a hour with this father, I had to think about the practical aspects of raising of twins like I had never done before.  I immediately realized the daunting dauntingness of the task and I had many questions:
  • If you buy your twins toys, do you have to buy two of the same toy each time?
  • How does breast-feeding twins work?  Do you use "both" at the same time?  Or should I say do you feed them both at the same time?  Do the mother-in-laws maybe help in this?  Is there anything the Dad can do?  What if Dad is fat and has "them"?  Could he help then?
  • How do you tell your twins apart?  I asked my student about this and he told me he cut their hair differently.  I had assumed that he would have put a scar on one of the twin's faces or would have each branded differently.
  • At why age can you begin to train twins to use fire arms?  I suppose when they are two, there is a chance one would shot the other when they have a quarrel.  I suppose four years old would still be too young.  From what I have seen of my Tony, a child's aim at four is not steady yet.
  • What are the sleeping arrangements?  Do the twins both sleep with mother and father?  Does maybe one twin sleep with Dad in one bed while the other twin sleeps with Mom in another bed?  Does Dad end up sleeping alone in on the couch?  Do the twins sleep alone with each other?
  • And what happens if the father believes in arranged marriage?  It must make thing harder.
  • And what about clothes?  Are the twins wearing their own underwear always or are they sharing? 
  • And for that matter, toothbrushes?
  • And what happens if both twins grow up to be degenerates or mountebanks?  From my experience here in Wuxi, I have seen many a sad sack who can't control his drinking or his passion, can't come to work on time, or has at best a "union work" ethic or a "do as little as possible" ethic.  To have twins like this would be a great shame.
  • Can twins ever be fat?  If you one twin sees that the other is fat, one can help but be motivated to put one's selves back into shape.  I mean I imagine I would be, if I were a twin, but then look at my point about twins being degenerates and creeps.  There is no limit to human depravity.
  • Should I say "If I were a twin", "If I was twins", or "If I were twins"?  

Ignore them. They know not what they do.

  • I was thinking this Friday night as I was about to get off the bus.  Buses in China are often so tightly-crowded that you have to make your way to the exit, one stop before the stop you will deboard.  And so to make your way through the packed crowd is an arduous process.  You have to push and shove your way through.  Last night, I was doing this.  I got out of the seat I had had and I made my way to the exit as far as I could before encountering a jam.  I stood still. Everyone else in front of me appeared to be ready to get off so there was no point trying to advance further.  But then these people behind me trying to push past me. They started tapping me on the back.  I could make out enough of their Chinese to understand that they were making their way to the exit too.  I was annoyed because if they had been paying attention, they would have noticed that I had gotten out of my seat and was also trying to make my way to the exit.  They were, in essence, trying to bud ahead of me, but probably didn't know it.  I ignored them and they must have felt foolish when they saw me get off the bus.
  • Tony tries to hit Tom the Taking Cat with his toy guitar.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wuxi China Nanchang Temple Market: July 2011

Cool Looking Wuxi Bridge

Taken from the front seat of the second deck of the #81 Wuxi Bus.

A Canal in Wuxi, China: July 2011.

Too busy to make entries

  • Summer is busy at the school so I haven't had the time to make daily entries.  So, I leave you with a few notes, observations, and asides today.  And maybe even a link or two.
  • It is Mid-July in Wuxi and it is still in the midst of rainy season.
  • Tony still likes to play with the Ipad we bought over a week.  He is becoming adept at navigating the apps, his favorite one being the Cat App that allows one to scratch and slap a cat.
  • With the Ipad, I read emails in bed for the first time.
  • I have taught students named April, May, June, and July.
  • At a restaurant near the school, there is a big screen television on which one can see the video feed from the kitchen.  An appetizing sight?  
  • There was a tremendous flyover in the Wuxi China Expatdom.
  • I still haven't been able to access my wordpress site.  I can only make entries to it via email.
  • I saw a man chase another man down one evening, as I waited for the bus.  One man had a brick which he held to defend himself from the man who was chasing him.  For whatever reason, the man being chased put the brick down.  The chaser picked it up  and threw at the other man, fortunately missing.  The chaser gave up the chase, but got into another altercation as he returned to where ever it was that he was coming from.
  • These little dramas interest me.
  • Under a tree on what I would have thought was a very forlorn street, I saw a couple sitting and holding hands.  It would have been like seeing a couple sit and hold hands in a mall parking lot in Canada.  Really not at all the right place.

Monday, July 11, 2011

AKIC Notes from mid-July 2011

  • Monday, the K family went to have Hot Pot at the Little Sheep Hot Pot Restaurant on Zhongshan Road.  Out the window, they could see ongoing subway construction.  Andis was particularly fascinated by a crane which was pulling up and out dirt from deep below the surface -- the dirt, which was hard packed, was loaded into a dump truck which would most assuredly race somewhere else in Wuxi to be dumped as quickly as possible.
  • Andis and Tony were wandering at a open-air vegetable market near Nanchang Temple Market.  What a tumult, thought Andis, as he watched all the people.
  • Rainy Season in Wuxi.  It rains everyday and often quite heavily.
  • Andis saw that Susan Boyle on Chinese television.  She made an appearance on a Chinese star search show, singing two songs.  Andis's wife Jenny couldn't see what the big deal about her was.  Andis couldn't explain it to her.
  • Andis is really wondering about the U.S. presidential candidacy of Jon Huntsman.  What is the point of it?  Huntsman seems to be a RINO Squish. But after the nomination of John McCain in 2008, Andis fears that there is a possibility the Huntsman could be very competitive in the primary process. 
  • Will the anti-Romney squishes coalesce around Huntsman?  I hope not.
  • Andis seems to always wait for a podcast download to finish so he can turn the computer off and be out the apartment on his way to something.  This situations always involve 25 minute downloads that would make life easier if they were only 15.
  • Andis and Jenny have to hide the Ipad from Tony.
  • A Taiwanese restaurant featuring an impressive photo of downtown Taipei has opened in the apartment complex.  The K family has eaten there once and now will phone them to deliver food to Casa K.
  • Andis gives up his seat to a woman and baby.  This earns admiration from onlookers who then yield their seat to Andis.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Walking through the Wuxi Train Station 2011

Friday, I had to put money on my bus card, so I went to the recently expanded Wuxi Train Station.
It used to be that the Wuxi train station was just on the south side of the main tracks running through the city.  Now, because of the fast train construction that has been done, the train station is on both sides of the tracks with tunnels running underground and above the tracks.

The north train station, the new one, recently opened.  It is not quite finished yet as construction goes on -- shops and hotels have been to be set up.  One part of the station, that must have recently been completed, is a tunnel connecting the North and South train station squares.  The #25 bus I take to work recently changed its route and now runs through the North square instead of the South.

The #25 bus route change has meant some changes for me.  I often transfer to buses at the south square.  It seemed that I wouldn't be able to do this because of the bus route change, but I thought I would explore the north square to see.  Friday was my chance as I needed to get to the South Square to the place where I can put money on my bus card.

It turned out that I was easily able to find the tunnels to get me from the north side of the tracks to the south.  But I have no problems with keeping my bearings in Wuxi -- I would imagine that those not familiar with Wuxi would have been confused.  To go from one side of the tracks to the other involved going up and down three flights of stairs, and walking through two long tunnels.  The end of the second tunnel was familiar enough to me, but again probably confusing to others.   As well, the signs, try hard as they might, couldn't help but be confusing.

After my visit to the train station, I later happened to talk to a student who had just come to Wuxi, via train, from Changzhou which is close to Wuxi.  The student, who always makes the short train trip, indicated by his limited vocabulary and shaking of his head that he found the expanded train station to be a confusing place.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Storm rolling in.

Tuesday, I was to meet my wife at a China Telecom near Wuxi's big Xinhua Book Store on Renmin Road. 

I was able to walk to the China Telecom from school.  However, it was a humid walk.  The humidity was so oppressive that I had a feeling that a storm was coming on.

When I arrived at China Telecom, my wife was not there as I had expected.  I would have phoned her to find out where she was, but I knew she had forgotten her phone.  I had to wait for her to either arrive at China Telecom or phone me.

So I stood outside the China Telecom for 45 minutes!  I was stewing, wondering where she and Tony were.  I also saw that the suspected storm was brewing.  Dark clouds were coming from the direction of Xihui Park.  It reminded me of times in Manitoba when storms could be seen rolling in on the prairie.  However, the interesting phenomenon to be seen in Wuxi, was not rolling clouds covering the prairie.  Instead, it was all the pedestrians running for cover.  As I stood inside the China Telecom, I saw a huge crowd of people running into the Xinhua Book Store for shelter.  How I wish I had brought my camera!

The heavy torrential rain further trapped me at the China Telecom.

Finally, my wife phoned and I learned I had done to the wrong China Telecom.  It seems that I had gone to an authorized China Telecom dealer.  From where I came, the dealer was the first place to have China Telecom signs.  My wife was at the China Telecom main office which was down the street from the authorized dealer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

AKIC Quickies and Links

  • The heat is getting to me.  I feel fried.  I am finding to hard to put together a coherent thought for those of you who still visit this blog.
  • How bad is the heat?  It is hard to sleep at night.  I feel like a Zombie when I make my waking way through the world.
  • It is going to be a busy summer.
  • Some tips on how to deal with Wuxi China Expatdom summer humidity.
  • We got an Ipad 2.  Right now, we are trying to figure how to get the damn thing to connect to the Internet.
  • Andis and Tony outside a Wuxi restaurant waiting for Jenny.
  • People from Guangzhou, living in Wuxi, cannot buy houses in Wuxi.  The government is trying to keep house prices down.
  • Andis Kaulins denounced.
  • The best pub in the Wuxi China Expatdom?  Find out here.
  • There is a student here who has named himself Spinach.
  • Another has named himself Sand.
  • Video of Tony pretending to play guitar.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tony the guest takes a shower

Funny thing happened Saturday night when the K family was invited to a friend's house for supper.
Halfway through the evening, Tony followed his father into the bathroom.  Tony said "Daddy take a bath!", and then proceeded to strip.
Daddy not sure what Tony wanted called Tony's mother into to see what Tony wanted.  It turned out that Tony wanted to take a shower.
His behavior was inexplicable since usually he has to be dragged, screaming, to the bathroom and the bathtub. 
His behavior was found to be very hilarious by all the other guests attending the dinner.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 2011: Along the grand canal in Wuxi, China.

AKIC makes history! Buys deodorant in China.

For the first time in over five thousand years of Chinese history, a Canadian from the Kaulins family has been able to purchase deodorant, or pit stick (to use the vernacular of the peasantry) in China.  Unlike other Expats, who would happily, or joyfully, go without, Andis Kaulins has made sure he has had deodorant shipped to him, in care packages, from Canada.  Deodorant in China, AKIC quickly learned in 2004, was a rare and expensive product in China.

AKIC's history-making, epoch-changeing purchase took place at the Tesco in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi.  Kaulins happened to walk past a bargain bin in the toiletries section and saw fresh action (or scented) AXE deodorant sticks on sale for just 17 rmb!  Impulsively, AKIC made the purchase, even though, as his wife said, he already had a large supply of deodorant.  However, reasoned the K Man, when a chance arises to make history and shift paradigms, one has to do it, damn the consequences.