- National Day in the People's Republic of China. Are the Chinese people filled with patriotic fervor? I don't know. None of the students, I talked to, said they were going to be particularly patriotic on October 1, and thought it strange that I would ask them if they were.
- I will be spending my October/National Day Holiday in Beixin, my wife's hometown. This is not an exciting prospect for me. But, I at least get to spend one day of my five day holiday in Wuxi.
- I had one local tell me that I was famous for doing the commercials that were seen on buses around Wuxi in September. His wife even bragged to her friends that I had come to her house to pay a visit one time.
- Try as I might to blame myself for being annoyed and being annoying, people do and say things that demand me being righteously indignant. Someone asked this while I was in the teacher's office at school: What is your stereotype about Americans? The Australian anti-American said "they were self-righteous!" (How you can say that without actually being what you accuse the other person of is a mystery to me!) The first thing that came to my mind was "loud and brash!" And the second thing which I did say was "generous! The most generous people I have meet are Americans." The Australian teacher, who is exceedingly anti-American, then said "yeah, they are generous with their opinions!" ( I have meet anti-Americans who generously tell me they are anti-American at the drop of a hat. I had one tell me that Cole Porter wrote deliberate sexual entrendres into his lyrics in order to mock the McCarthyites. I think I was talking about the great American song book at the time.) Another teacher said Americans were stupid. "Really! How was that they were able to put a man on the moon!" (Because science is easy said another anti-American living in Wuxi)
- This sort of exchange was not the first time I encountered such sentiments and it won't be the last. It is my great shame that I let these things past without making any retorts. I going to have to stop. I should push back. For as I have said in the blog, I believe anti-Americanism is a disease akin to Antisemitism. It is fueled by envy. America is not perfect but it is great. Its vices are the vices of humanity. And yet it has done a better job of controlling its vices than most. People who complain about America's foreign policy should note these things: America has a power that all other countries in the world lack. The notion that, say, a Canadian can somehow say the foreign policy of his country is better than America's because it is soft is silly -- Canada has little power in the world and is obscure on the world stage. It can only dream of being in America's shoes and carrying America's sticks. America, with its unprecedented power, has done an astoundingly decent job with it. It has become the world's second moral superpower (the first was the British). America has rebuilt Europe, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and Taiwan to its credit. And hopefully soon a rebuilt Iraq. America has fought wars -- Vietnam and Iraq and Yugoslavia -- where it either had no interest or could have chosen to make the area Carthage but didn't. All and all, a not bad legacy.
- I come from a country Canada over which America looms. Our grievances against America are minor and inconsequential, than say our grievances would have been if we had Mexico, North Korea, the Soviet Union, France, Germany, North Vietnam, China, or Japan as our neighbors. The very existence of Canada is proof that the leaders of loser countries like Mexico and Cuba who blame America for their troubles are engaging in demagoguery.
- It is not fashionable to hate Jews (but that might be changing), so you might as well hate Americans. The human capacity for hate is something to behold. And the human capacity to rationalize it is astounding.
- And the human capacity to be so unaware amazes as well.
- And of course I have to wonder how I am doing on that count! Ha!
- What is the opposite of Self-Righteous? Self-Wrongeous? Otherly-Righteous? It seems to me that people who say others are self-righteous are falling into a logical error. By merely saying others are being self-righteous, one is being hypocritical by self-righteously condemning others for being self-righteous.
- The same goes for those who accuse others of being judgmental. The Bible says "Judge not lest ye be judged." But that has been interpreted by anti-Christians to say "Judge not lest ye be judged judgmental." The Bible says you have to keep to high standards. The misinterpretation means you don't have to have standards at all, and that it is bad to act or speak as if you did.
- No one has the right to be left alone by all other people in this life. Though it is something to be devoutly wished for.
- Anyway, I sure get exposed to a lot of Leftism in my time in Wuxi. I'd rather have the Christians bother me. There is no escaping being judged in this world. Is is a consequence of living. And that is something that no sane person would devoutly wish for.
- The parachute game. A plane is about to run out of fuel and will crash. Ten people on board but there are only six parachutes. The object of the parachute game is decide who gets the parachutes, or who doesn't. A student told me that the doctor shouldn't get a parachute because he could probably take care of himself if he was injured in the crash.
- Major League Baseball playoffs have started. Prediction: The D-Back and the Rays play in the most unsexy and unseemly matchup in World Series history. No one will care who wins.
- That's it for now.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Yet more jottings: National Day in China, Stereotypes about Americans, and the words "self-righteous" and "judgmental"
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
- I walked into the screen that is used to cover the opening between the living room and the veranda of Casa K. What a dunderhead I was! I was thinking of two things at once, and because it was early in the morning, I was slave to impulses which I should have quickly ignored, instead of immediately trying to deal with as I did. What happened was that I was thinking of how I was going to pack my new laptop so I could take it to school, instead of the manner at hand, which was getting Tony to the kindergarten van pickup spot. I saw that my wife had put my old laptop case on the veranda to dry because she had washed it the day before. Suddenly seeing the case, I immediately walked to it, and didn't notice that the screen, meant to stop mosquitoes from entering the apartment, wasn't open. As I knocking the screen out of its place, I swore like I had dropped a hammer on my foot!
- It seemed that I had broken the screen, but eventually we were able to put it back in place; and to look at it now, one would never suspect that anything had happened.
- Back to the issue of the hellos directed my way by locals because I am a foreigner. As one reader has pointed out, I could try living in a place where no one says hello to you like big cities in America and Canada. He is right about this, and so I shouldn't be riled by people simply saying hello to me. I could say in my defence that if you tried to say hello to someone in a Canadian or American city just because of their ethnicity, you would be thought of racist. But I don't want you to think that I am a person who calls any action by anyone racist at the drop of a hat. In fact, the charge of racism is used to often stop argument and not deal with the truth of a matter. And I shouldn't be using the word racist in my situation. Chesterton rightly pointed out the differences are a source of humour, and so I should realize that the giggles of Chinese laughing at the things foreigners do aren't racist in the least. Their reactions are natural and human.
- What I am really saying is that I am a product of modern Western culture and my mind is polluted by this idea of multi-culturalism so that I act irrationally in many ways, like when a local makes something of my being in his country. Really, I should be happy they don't try to throw me out, and take the hellos as a bonus.
- I just got riled (it is Wednesday evening) when walking up the stairs to my third floor apartment. A boy and female adult walked down the stairs and I heard one of them said "Waiguoren!" I already being annoyed, because of another incident which I will mention anon, got more annoyed and screamed "Waiguoren!" back. Jenny heard this and told me that these people lived on the second floor. I hope I don't see them again, because I will have to battle the urge to use the F-bomb on them.
- Getting off the bus, I was espied (is that the right word!) by these two electric scooterists, who yelled "Fuck you!" at me. They must have been the ones I had screamed at the last time I accompanied Tony as he rode his bike with training wheels. I suppose I deserved it. As I walked home,pretending to laugh to myself, I wondered if they would ride past me again and confront me. I arrived home without incident till I past the pair going down the stairs in my apartment building.
- Earlier on Wednesday, I saw a young man wearing nothing but a vest as a top. He had pants.
- Later, but earlier than the incidents I had coming home in the evening, I saw the children in the primary school near my school marching around their playground. It was a sight to behold. I don't think I ever paraded as well when I was in the reserves.
- My co-workers at school will be happy that I have a computer at work again. I can sit in my own office and leave them alone because I don't have to go into theirs and use their computer, and annoy them with my chit-chat.
- I should shut up and let others talk and show their stupidity.
- Obama said something to Congressional Black Caucus about not complaining, taking off slippers and putting on marching boots. I thought the whole point of Leftists marching was to complain, or I mean protest, about something.
- Pictures of a lizard that was hanging out on a wall outside my bedroom: See here, and here.
- A student tells me he is going to Yangzhou, which is near to my wife's hometown, for the National Day holiday (say the October holiday and the students don't understand). He has a car but he is choosing to take a bus because the tolls are too expensive.
- A new video of Tony: watch it here.
Monday, September 26, 2011
- I saw a group of young people approach near to me and it was obvious that they had seen me. As they got closer, someone said hello, and I said nothing, making a point of acting like I was ignoring them. I did have an urge to tell them off as well, but I didn't -- they would probably have been mystified by my anger or found it very amusing.
- Anyway, something about the way the locals say hello! to me just riles me up. I find their hellos, which they wouldn't say to a stranger of their own country, to be demeaning. One would like to think that these people are just being friendly, but that is not the way it strikes me when they throw their hello! at me.
- My reaction probably means that I should do some soul-searching. What do I want from these people? Why do I get angry at these hellos really?
- My answer to the first question is be left alone. But am I being honest when I say this? I do want to be left alone.
- My answer to the second question is that the hellos ruin my splendid isolation. But paradoxically, the hellos also point out that I am quite the sight and that I am a sore thumb. It pricks ones pride to be seen to be a sore thumb.
- I have found a fantastic podcast about the History of Rome. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will tell you how to get it.
- Tony's father would like to smack other kids that pick on Tony. Read about it here or here.
- Harry Moore is the new president of the Wuxi China Expatdom Film Appreciation Society. Read about it here or here.
- A Wuxi business owner tells me that he is working harder than ever, but is making less money. He has lots and lots of orders but his profit margins are declining due to inflation.
- The government, he tells me, has no problems with businesses being paid in foreign currency; but use Chinese currency to buy foreign products and you have to fill out paperwork. He finds this very annoying. I saw this as ammunition for China-bashing on trade issues.
- The latest Takara TOMY video that I have uploaded.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
- How is my new computer? The operating system is in Chinese which is a pain in the ass. The laptop's touch pad mouse pad will take some getting used to: now, the display will zoom or shrink when I don't want it to because putting two fingers on the pad will cause it to send magnification instructions. This is meant to be like what can be done on the Ipad, but if one is used to not having this feature, as I did with my old HP Presario, one needs time to change one's mousing movements. As well, the magnification operation works better on a touch-screen. On the bright side, I can now make blog entries in bed.
- I will spend the October holiday at my wife's hometown Beixin. We will leave on the second and hopefully be back on the fourth of October. I return to work on the sixth.
- I will endorse Herman Cain for President of the USA, for now. Both John Derbyshire and Marc Levin, conservative commentators I like, have said good things about him. Cain's major drawback is that he speaks sensibly which is a dangerous thing for a politician to do. It is a shame that he and other candidates like Michelle Bachman have been placed in the also-ran category. A Perry-Romney final would be boring. It would be like the Super Bowl morphing into the World Cup Final.
- The liberal political commentators I have listened to have finally admitted that Obama is no longer a vessel for hope. However, they won't admit that Obama is man with stupid ideas. Their biggest criticism of Obama is that he is merely weak-willed. I suppose that hearing this criticism is a start. Hell will freeze over before they also admit that Obama is inexperienced, over his head, ideologically stubborn, and a bore.
- Seven thirty five in the a of the m, I was startled by the sound of apartment decoration beginning. The grinding of the machine, that put slots in the concrete walls for the piping, could be heard loud and clear from two floors below.
- I took night photos when Tony for an electric bike ride. We stood on two bridges. From one, we threw discarded bricks into the water; from another, we watched boat and freeway traffic. You can see the photos in a previous entry.
- The Wuxi Metro, the official NFL fantasy football team of Wuxi China Expats, have a record of one win and two losses early in the season. QB Aaron Rodgers has a poor supporting cast and a manager who has made poor roster decisions.
- One way to get a lot views on Youku, I have discovered, is to put on videos of our Takara TOMY train set. This video, for instance, has garnered 3,000 views. Here is the latest one that I have just uploaded.
- I talked to a student who had a four year old daughter and an Ipad. His experience with the two things was eerily similar to mine. The daughter spends two hours a night playing with the Ipad. The wife watched movies on the Ipad. The father never gets to use it.
- Another student, Sara, told me she worked as a financial analyst at Vanco China. I thought she said the Bank of China, and for ten minutes, we had a conversation that was at cross-purposes.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Another great moment in AKIC history. I am writing this AKIC entry on my new Dell Laptop -- an historical first.
I haven't much to say in this entry because I am still out of sorts from having gone a week without my old laptop. I will say but two things:
1) I support Israel and whatever it takes to ensure its survival. I am not sure if a Palestinian state would ensure its survival, however.
2) How much are your glasses? The students always ask me this question. It drives me mad that they do so.
They ask the question whenever I solicit questions from then using the words "How much" or "How many." Are they asking because my reading glasses are ugly or cool-looking? I assume they are thinking the former.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
As I waited for Tony's kindergarten van, I saw three men walking down the street, arm-in-arm. The man in the middle had his arm around the man on his right and locked arms with the man on his left. They seemed happy but I never thought to examine them for signs of drunkenness. They were all of short stature and dressed like they were from the countryside.
After they passed and as i look at them from a distance, I saw them continue to embrace each other.
I saw an old man wearing high top sneakers with no socks. It is all in the details.
I had a student whose English name was Cheney. I mentioned the famous U.S. vice president to him, and he gave the usual dronish line about Cheney being a Darth Vadar like character who loved war and once shot someone in the face. I usually let these comments pass, but for whatever reason --perhaps I listen religiously to Marc Levin on talk radio -- I didn't let his comment pass. I told him that he had been told lies and Cheney was a decent fellow that china would be lucky to have as a leader.
One has to suppress so much when in china. In a moment of weakness, one's true feelings can boil out like a kettle that has just begun to whistle.
At a bus stop downtown, I saw an old man laying on a bench, looking like he was going through convulsions. His chest -- he was shirtless --seemed to heave like he was in a death rattle. I thought I was witnessing a man dying. Phlegm collected in his mouth, and he spit it out. I thought he was going to vomit.
But then his bus pulled into the stop and he quickly arose, collected his things, and darted onto the bus.
Talk about timing your power naps right!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Shimmering clouds - glimmering crowds (glittering crowds and shimmering clouds)
In canyons of steel
They're making me feel - I'm home
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
- Good title for this entry. Now, If only I had something to say. I type this at home. Soon, I will take Tony to his kindergarten van pickup spot. Then I will take the bus to work. Maybe, I will see the commercial, that Tony and I are in, that has been playing on bus video screens. Perhaps I will see something interesting and be able to go off on a rant or tangent.
- One more thing -- for now. Monday is holiday in China: the moon festival, I believe. Monday is my normal day off. So, I will take Saturday off.
- I wrote points one and two on Friday morning. It is now Friday evening. I never did make any blog entries during the day. I turned on my 8 year old Compaq Presario this morning and put on my email program. I was about to make some blog entries. I saw that the my USB camera card reader was recognized by my laptop. I went to the washroom and was about to start some blogging when I saw a disk read error on my screen. The message told me to press Crtl/Alt/Del to restart the start process. Doing this didn't do any good. My Hard Drive had failed.
- The death of my computer put me all out of sorts for the rest of the day. I hope that I don't lose all the school work I had on that Laptop. It would be annoying, to say the least, to have to redo all the lesson plans I have made.
- I didn't see the commercial starring Tony and me either. None of the bus I rode Friday had video screens. Perhaps on Saturday. I don't think Saturday is going to be a sunny day. So much for my plan to take Tony for a ride in the countryside around my home.
- Saturday, I have been told, is Teacher's Day. I won't be at school, which may be a good thing or perhaps a bad thing.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
- I saw two street fights on Thursday: one, near my home; another, near my school. The first brawl was in the Hui Shan Tesco parking lot; the second was on a side street near my school.
- I saw the first fight from the bus, I saw a man with no shirt flailing wildly opponent. A crowd of twenty people surrounded him. The fight then went out of my view as the bus went on its way.
- I had a better view of the second fight. I saw it as I was walking from the bus stop to school. Going down a side street near my school, I saw an older man and a man, in either a security or police uniform, screaming at each other. They thrust their arms straight-out as they pointed aggressively at each other as the Chinese are wont to do. A woman, presumably a companion of the older man, was trying to get in between the two men. The two men then briefly walked away from each other. The older man walked through the entrance of his apartment complex; the uniformed man went down the street. But they continued screaming, and all-of-a-sudden, they both returned to a spot on the street to confront each other. They got into each other's face, and seemed to be about exchange blows. The woman got in between him, and ended up flat on her ass for her efforts. Others came in between as well. And I walked off.
- Quarrels between uniformed people and citizens happen all the time here in China, but it never fails to surprise me that the uniformed people, in these fights, don't maintain a stoicism or professional dignity. The uniformed people take the quarrel as indignantly and personally as the civilian. I remember another fight where the end result of a street fight between a civilian and uniformed person was the sight of the uniformed man having to be restrained by his uniformed colleagues from a man on a electric bicycle. whom he had stopped. The cyclist objected to being stopped in a most violent way. The guard objected, just as vehemently to the cyclist's reaction.
- One theory about this is that the uniformed persons here have so little power. The traffic cops are routinely ignored at intersections. It must grate at them to stand there for no real purpose.
- I saw a grown Chinese adult wearing a Sesame Street Elmo shirt. It didn't seem right. In China, people will wear t-shirts bearing images of which they are ignorant. I have seen people wearing Beatles, James Deans, and Sex Pistols t-shirts, and found when questioning them they didn't know who these people were.
- Wuxi Expat praised for his manner of death.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
- From the bus, I saw a man selling books on the sidewalk. He had stationed himself in the covered portion of a pedestrian tunnel that was underneath the train tracks that go through Wuxi. He was sitting on a lawn chair. He had books lined up on the pavement as well as sitting in boxes. I thought to myself, as I saw him, how his way of making money would soon be obsolete, and the sight was forlorn in a way.
- Wuxi China Expatdom now has a Colonscopy specialist!! Read about it at blogspot or wordpress.
- Dazzle, a male-stripper team featuring Dennis, Andis, and Zach, wins a Wuxi China Expatdom competition. Read about at WCE blogspot or WCE wordpress.
- Another student tells me she admires Chairman Mao.....
- Photo of a fishing Tony.
- In one of my classes, a student tells me his mother keeps a frog in his house to catch mosquitoes.
- I came home late on Friday night Tony immediately wanted me to set up bridges for his train set. Jenny tells me he had been waiting all evening for me.
- Saturday evening, the school had a field trip to Mei Yuan Park for a light show. I took Tony and Jenny with me, and you can see some photos I took by visiting the links in this entry. The light show was okay as far as it went. But there was the usual chintzy and smaltz associated with Chinese parks. We tried to feed fish with milk bottles but the fish weren't sucking -- they probably had been feeding all day. We tried to catch little gold fish with fishing rods, or I should say I tried. Tony had the posture of fishing down (look at the photo link to see this), but he didn't get the concept. He wanted to make bubbles, not catch his fish with the pole. He was more interested in the track ride -- 25 rmb it set me back for two rides. As soon as he saw the train ride -- if you could call it a train -- he ran for it before the attendants could stop him.
- Photo of Tony and Jenny with a properly posing Tony.
- At the square near my home, I see these people practicing Tai Chi or something like it -- I am not sure of the name. I was impressed with what I saw and heard. The music was calm. The movements of the practitioners was very grace and had the dynamism of Bruce Lee. I felt I was witnessing one of those rare Chinese things that doesn't seem tainted or rendered suspect by Modern China. I wanted to join in.
- Photo of Tony at the Mei Yuan Park Light Show.
- A student, who has twin boys, tells me he can sometimes get discounts at baby shops, but only sometimes.
- Photo of Tony and Jenny at the Mei Yuan Park Light Show.
- Last week, one of my students told me he was getting married this week. Today in my second last class, I had a student tell me that he and his wife were expecting their baby next month. In my last class, I had a student tell me that he and his wife were expecting a baby next week.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
- September 1 is back to school day which means that Monday to Friday, the school has few students during the day. It also means that I have to take Tony to the kindergarten van pick-up spot every morning.
- There is direct flight between Wuxi and Taiwan. This started in late August.
- Monday, I read my first entire novel on the Ipad: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. A good read, and easy, it would seem, to make into a movie.
- Is Wuxi boring? Are Wuxi people boring? Some will tell you that. I would say their interests differ from ours. And let's face it, the world of computer games is often more fascinating that one they do inhabit.
- I had a student tell he admires Chairman Mao. He wasn't the first and he won't be the last. When students tell me this, I quickly move on. I can't be bothered to ask them why they say this. They obviously figure this is what they have to say.
- I have a female student who is married and older than her husband. I have never encountered this before in my seven years of teaching in China
- I saw a senior citizen wearing undershirt and flannel pants on bus. He had a dignified bearing despite the way he dressed.
- I can't win sometimes. Tuesday, after teaching a company class, I waited forty minutes for a taxi. Usually, there would be a taxi waiting for me. But for whatever reason, Tuesday was a bad night to catch a taxi in the New District of Wuxi.
- Thursday evening, after teaching at the same company, I caught a taxi right away -- the security guards had one waiting for me. I had the taxi take me to a bus stop downtown from where I can make my way home. It seemed everything was tickety-boo as I got out of the taxi and went to the bus stop. It was 840; and the bus would arrive shortly. But then I waited and waited and waited. At 900, I fantasized about punching the driver and asking him what had taken him so long. At 905, I realized that I was at a point where I had waited as long as I had on Tuesday; and that having a taxi pick up me, right after my class was finished, was yielding no benefit. I, in what I thought was an irrational move, went to look at the posted bus listings to see how long I could expect to wait for a 635 bus. I then saw a sign that indicating, that the as of Thursday's date, the 635 didn't come to this stop. I pointed this out to some others waiting for a bus. I then accompanied some them as they walked to other bus stops looking to see if the 635 stopped there. Eventually, we found a 635 stop. But 45 minutes of my life, which I can never get back, was taken from me.
- Tony has three trains. Jenny bought him a couple cheap trains from the Internet because he was asking to get another engine that he had seen in the Toys-R-Us catalogue.(Links if you can)
- Twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. An event that made for a better world. Though Russia is far from a wonderful place, it is still an improvement. As a person of Latvian ancestry, I hope that all who want, or wanted, the Soviet Union to exist would rot in hell.
- Speaking of Hell and the Soviet Union, catching a taxi at 530 pm in Wuxi is an ordeal. Two times, I have had people aggressively try to take a taxi from me at this time of the day. They will run in front of me to grab the taxi. The first time it happened, I gave the people a rude gesture. The second time, last night, I had to resist the urge to give someone an elbow in the face. This woman, who came on the scene after I did, nearly swiped me as she rushed in front to get to a taxi. Funny thing was I prevailed in the end. The taxi driver, who was ending his shift, asked both of us where we were going. I told him the New District. He then took me and the woman, I nearly elbowed, into the taxi. The woman and the driver argued, and after a block the driver kicked the woman out.
- Photos taken near my school: Ba Bai Ban, Bus Stop, Primary School, and the Wuxi Protestant Church.