Friday, April 27, 2012

Saturday Bullets

  • My wife and son were at school when I finished work last night.  It was nice to have Tony run up to me and give me a hug
  • It wasn't nice having him accompany me on the bus ride home because he used my Ipod touch.  I missed out of 45 minutes of podcast listening enjoyment.
  •  After getting off  the bus, we had to walk ten minutes before we got home.  Along the way, we crossed a bridge.  The canal over which the bridge spanned had been drained.  In the distance, an earthen dam could be seen, behind which water had been pumped.  "They have drained the canal!" I told my wife.  She asked if they were looking for bodies.  She had heard that in Shandong province, a river had been similarly drained and sixteen bodies were discovered.  She provided no more details as to why the bodies were there.
  • In the book I am reading about the Chinese, the author said that the Chinese swear a lot.  If they do in fact, they don't do it in English.  Most of the Chinese I have meet, with the exception of my wife**, aren't the kind of people who swear.  My wife does tell me that when the Chinese do argue the epithets do fly.  When she bickers with shop keepers and so on, she always tells me the others swear at her.  So perhaps what the author says is true.
  • My morning routine.  I get at six a.m.  I shower, I shave, and I iron my clothes.  If I have time, I read my email on the Ipod or listen to a podcast on the Ipod.  At seven a.m., I make Tony his morning bottle of milk.  When he finishes, I try to wake him up and I sometimes try to get him dressed.  I say sometimes because it is a task I rather have my wife do.  She can deal with a protesting Tony better than I can.  This morning, he protested.

**She has a bad husband to swear at!  So don't blame her!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Going to Beixin

  • I am going to Beixin, my wife's hometown on Monday and Tuesday.  Exciting!
  • I am listening to a This American Life podcast.  This fellow brags of stopping couples from getting married.  I can't help but think this guy is a short-sighted moron.  He clearly doesn't understand it and its necessity for human civilization
  • I can post photos to my blogs using my Ipod Touch which is quite a wonderful thing.  I can also use the device to send photos to my father in Brandon.  I can provide my Dad with up-to-the-minute photos of his grandson Tony.
  • The quarterfinal match-ups in the NHL playoffs have been set.  All Northeastern teams in the East:  Flyers, Rangers, Devils and Capitals.  It is more far flung in the West with the Kings, Predators, Coyotes and Blues competing.  I would love to see the Rangers in the final against the Blues.
  • Girls are strong; Boys are angels.  A student told me that this was the Chinese belief about them.

A Commercial for My School

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trattoria Ferrara Grand Opening on April 29! Be there or be forever irredeemable. Danger.

  • I am talking about the Italian Restaurant that is near our school.  TF is my supplier of pizza here in Wuxi, China.  Its opening, so near my school, is proof that there is a God!
  • Their grand opening on April 29 should be perhaps the greatest event in the history for Wuxi Expats.
  • If you can't attend this event, you will not only be missing on Wuxi Expat history, you will also be saying things about yourself as a person; like you are not a man or you are not a woman or you are a nobody on a slow train going to a Popsicle stand in Palookaville one way.  In essence, you will be irredeemable or to change that adjective into a noun: an irredeembile.
  • So you must attend.
  • Personally, I have broached the topic of attending the grand opening to my wife.  I hope she gives me permission to go, or better yet accompanies me there, along with my son Tony.  I will have a hard time getting her to believe that the fate of my soul is in the balance.  But I hope I can make it.

  • What is Dangerous?  I asked the students and I got some strange answers.  They seemed to think that danger was anything that was disagreeable.  I tried to emphasize the idea that danger involved exposure to actual physical harm.  But they said mundane things, like exams and the possibility of feeling sad, were dangerous.

Scenes from my life in Wuxi, China #11

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Too bad Canucks! Sidelights on Chinese Life by J. Macgowan

  • The Canucks, despite having the NHL's best regular season record, were eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings.  This is quite a disappointment for them.  I have to admit that after posting an entry in this blog hoping for that result, I do feel sorry for the Canucks fans who aren't hooligans.
  • I am reading   Sidelights on Chinese Life by J. Macgowan.  Written over a 100 years, it is an interesting, though very politically-incorrect, look at the Chinese people.  Throughout the book, Macgowan refers to the Chinese as Yellow, Heathen and inscrutable; writing as he does from the vantage point of a Christian Missionary.     
  • Macgowan is not blind to the many strengths of the Chinese character.  Throughout the book, Macgowan praises the Chinese as being loving of children, hard-working,  intelligent and unwarlike.
  • He criticizes for them for their low-regard for girls, the practice of wife-beating, foot-binding and Heathen superstition. 
  • Most of what Macgown said of the Chinese character stills rings true today, even though it can be argued that the 20th and the early 21st centuries have seen the elimination of many of their most questionable practices.  I would recommend this book to those who are interested in China and the Chinese, even if they might find its Christian Missionary outlook to be annoying.  Most of what it says about the Chinese character has a ring of truth to it.
  • The Westerner likes to get straight to the point.  The Chinese likes to wind his way to it.  An observation I have heard from non-Christians of the Modern Age and this missionary from over a hundred years earlier.
  • I was sweating today in Wuxi.  The sun has been glaring down in that humid Wuxi way.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A student is going to Manitoba

The student tells me he is going to Canada.

"Where?" I asked. "Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg?"

"Winn--i---peg?" he tried to tell me. "Next week!"

I went on a long harangue about what he could expect when he went there and wished him good luck.

Sunny Day

I could wear a t-shirt today.

Tony reads a catalogue

Friday, April 20, 2012

Two E-Books about China that have just been added to Project Gutenberg

I love E-books.  Now, I am reading Volume One of Edward Gibbon's  History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on my Ipod Touch.

As soon as I finish this volume, I will read these books (which can be downloaded for free at the links below) about China:

I have to super-glue another pair of shoes

  • Good thing I am going to Canada next month.  My shoes are all falling apart and I can't buy any shoes, my size, in China.
  • In the past week, I have had to super-glue two pairs of shoes whose heel has separated from the rest of the shoe.
  • I used scissors to cut open the top of a super-glue bottle.  Now, the scissor blades are stuck together.  Nay, fused together.  It will take a superman to pull the blades apart.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What am I going to blog about? Also: Links

  • What am I going to blog about now? That is the question. Whether it is nobler to say nothing when you have nothing to say, or to try to say something all the same is a question that I don't ponder. I know the answer, but I don't want to believe it. Hence, this entry.
  • Photos taken from the #81 Bus.
  • Here is a photo of Tony leafing through the Takara TOMY catalogue on Tuesday at the Taiwanese Restaurant in the Casa Kaulins Apartment Complex.
  • Tony is still leafing through the Takara TOMY catalogue that I got him on the weekend.... Really?!? I should discuss this in my Tony blog, or my Tony blogs.
  • Good thing I got three copies of the catalogue because he has already lost one of them.
  • Wuxi Expat Engineer falls in love with spherical ball bearing.
  • Dang nab it!!! The Senators beat the Rangers and the Canucks are not eliminated yet in the NHL Playoffs!! I am not cheering for any of the Canadian teams in the playoffs because those two teams suck!
  • Tony on the #81 Bus.
  • I asked the students what news they were following. They told me about Bo Xilai. They had knowledge of what happened that was no better than mine. They had no opinions of what his ousting meant. When I first heard about it. I thought was no more significance that the ousting of Mao Xiao Peng as Wuxi mayor -- Bo Xilai's ousting was just another incident in the never-ending internal party struggle, I figured. But then John Derbyshire said it was the strangest incident to happen in China since the Lin Biao incident of 1971.
  • The Bus Stops of Wuxi, China #30 and #31.
  • A student had bags under his eyes because he stayed up to watch the first leg of the Bayern Munich - Real Madrid Champions League Semifinal.
  • More photos of Tony on the #81 Bus.
  • I have two ideas for videos to upload to my Youtube Channel. When I have some time, I will slap them together. I already have shot the video I need for one of them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

AKIC Photo Links

Bus Stops of Wuxi China #28 and #29.

Fuck James Cameron and Leonardo Decaprio!

When I was growing up, the story of the Titanic intrigued me.  I was interested in all things Titanic.  But then James Cameron had to make that Titanic movie and cast the loathsome Leonardo Decaprio in a starring role. 

Thanks to that movie I can't think of the Titanic without vomiting.  And so the centennial of the Titanic's sinking, which a younger me would have observed, passed me by.

Thanks for nothing JC!  Rot in hell!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14, 2012 TOMY Plarail Kaulins Family train track configuration

Mariners and Swallows Fan. Tony breaks the Ipad! A Monthly Ritual performed. A weekly ritual comes to an end. Go Kings!

  • I taught a Japanese student in a one-on-one class at school Saturday.  I had to ask him if he was a baseball fan.  He told me he was a fan of the Tokyo Swallows.  When I asked him about MLB teams, he told me he was a fan of the Mariners who had the greatest Japanese player ever on their roster:  Ichiro Suzuki.  I was quick to tell him I saw Ichiro play in 2001 in Seattle.
  • I didn't broach the topic of the wildcard.  I was inclined to like him for the moment. (rare readers may know that I consider the wildcard in baseball to be a heresy, and that anyone who supports should be burned at home plate.)
  • Tony dropped the Ipad Saturday.  It is not the first time he did it but it could be the last.  This time, he broke it, taking a chip off the corner.
  • The Ipad is still operational, but the damage is such that it can only get progressively worse over time.  The screen, says Jenny, is not tight.  I am hoping that we can fix it.
  • Expensive machines and gadgets are nice till you break them and then you feel an ache that goes down deep in the soul.
  • I took my case of empty Tsingtao Bottles to the small shop near Casa K.  I like the relationship I have with the shop keepers. It is all very casual and trusting. I drop the case of the empties at the front, and go to back corner of the shop where the cases of full bottles are stacked and serve myself.
  • This is the first weekend in probably over two years in which I won't be downloading the Radio Derb podcast.  What a shame.  I was always so interested in what his take on current events was.  Agree with him or not, his take was usually original, incisive and always worthy of consideration.  I hope that John Derbyshire is able to continue making Radio Derb podcasts.
  • There is a Fart App for the Ipod.  Why I am not surprised?  As soon as I thought of it myself, I knew that it just had to be.
  • Tony is now playing with my Ipod Touch.  Arrghh!!!
  • As soon as I leave the school on Sunday (which is an AKIC Friday), I don't see a foreigner till I get back to work on Wednesday (which is AKIC Monday).  I had another teacher today tell me this is probably a good thing.  Too many drunks he told me.  I would add that there are too many Leftists as well.
  • The Canucks are down two games to nothing in their first round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings.  The eighth seeded Kings won the first two games of the series on the top-seeded Canucks home ice.  Till the riots of last year, I would have felt sorry for the Canucks.  Now, all I can say is Go Kings Go!!  Sweep the sons-of-bitches!  It would be a fascinating sociological experiment to see if Canucks fans will destroy their downtown again.
  • And while I am at it!  Go Rangers!   Kick the Senators ass!  Nothing good comes from Canada's national capital.
  • Who do I actually want to win the Stanley Cup in 2012?  Rangers, Blues or Sharks.  The Rangers haven't won the Cup in 16 years.  The Blues and Sharks never have.  The Canadiens and Jets are in the playoffs so really, what's the point?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mid April 2012 entry: Big Hair versus Big Ears

  • I got a cold.  So, does my wife.  We got it from Tony.  Symptoms are coughing and an overall lethargic feeling.  The parts of my bones that are old and creaky also feel a bit sore
  • I scored 100 percent on this quiz, putting me with just eight percent of the population.  I was not particularly happy with the wording of one question, however.
  • I saw these two kids leaving a kindergarten wearing military multi-color camouflage from head to toe.
  • At an intersection during the rush hour, you can see many adults accompanied by children on e-bikes.  Obviously, the adults have just picked up the children from school.  They don't wear helmets which would make safety-fascists angry.  The child will generally sit behind the adult.  One child, riding on an e-bike with a woman, was quite the sight to me as he was deeply immersed in a book.  He stood straight up with the book right in his face.  I wondered how he could that.  When I am the passenger with my wife on our e-bike, I always using my hands to hold onto the bike frame.  I would just be too scared to read a book.
  • So it is almost certain that it will be Mitt Romney and Barack Obama facing off in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.  I hope Romney wins.  I am not very enthusiastic about Romney, but he is a better Republican candidate than the lamentable John McCain.  So really, it is not saying much. I support Romney because Barack Obama is about as bad as a U.S. President can possibly be.  Obama is an economic illiterate, socialist and a liar to boot.  The people who support him are fools.  His election to the Presidency was truly the triumph of style and wishful-thinking over substance.

Still More Trainspotting with the K Boys

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

First thunderstorm of the year

Rain and lightning last night.  I believe it was the first lightning of the year.

The first lightning of the year in Wuxi, that is.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Somebody! Shoot me!

  • I should be careful what I wish for!
  • Be that as it may.  I am having "one of those days."  I'd rather being having "another kind of those days," but I am stuck with the day that I am having.
  • What specifically is bad?  I can't say.  Something I will have to save for my memoirs which will be tell-all -- tell all my faults, that is.
  • I have just finished putting together another video.  This one is entitled Still More Trainspotting with the K boys.  I will upload as soon as I have a connection with a reliable VPN.  Here is a previous Trainspotting Video for you to enjoy if you can't wait for the latest one.

John Derbyshire fired by NRO.

I recall I made a blog entry proudly proclaiming that John Derbyshire had responded to one of my emails.  Googling, I haven't been able to find it so as to give the link.  But I did notice that I have linked to Derb's site and his podcast on NRO on numerous occaisions on my blog.

Anything he writes I quickly read.  He is along David Warren, a must read for me.  I like them both, even though Warren is an orthodox Catholic and Derb is a Darwinistic deterministic atheist,  because they have strong, inciteful and interesting takes on things.  And I will say that I agree with Warren much more than I do with Derbyshire.

I listened to his Radio Derb NRO podcast every week.  As soon as I downloaded it, I would listen to it.  I would have to say it was my favorite podcast.  I hope he finds another venue to make them.

I also classed him as a great Sinologist.  He married a Chinese woman, as I did.  Heck, he even had a bit part in a Bruce Lee Movie!!

So it saddens me to hear that he was fired from the National Review for writing this article.   It was a typical Derb screed on race which goes to places that the more timid dare not tread.  Was it racist?  I don't think so, unless racism means being honest about racial differences.  Derb does not wish ill will on anybody but the wicked.  Derb comes from the school that says to judge people by the content of their character and not their color of their skin.  But he has never been one to cater to the platitudes of this belief.  In the real world, for many reasons, there are differences among racial groups that people are blind to and dishonest about.  Government programs that try to ameliorate racism in fact have allowed it to take on different forms.  What they have done to many American blacks is kind of a new slavery ponzie scheme.  Derb talked about this and other matters racial that was far too honest for this day and age.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Photos of Tony looking too relaxed

Some Tony Photo Links

An Incident at McDonald's

Another day, another incident.  Some days, I have nothing to blog about.  But I impatiently try to blog anyway.  I should just wait.  Yesterday for instance, I had the incident at the bakery.  This morning, I had another strange occurrence, about which I could blog, while eating breakfast at McDonald's.

I bought my egg sausage sandwich, hash-brown patty and coffee, and sat down.  There I was minding my own business when these two Chinese kids sat right beside me and basically poked their faces into mine.  One of them asked "shi Waiguoren?" ( "是 外国人?" "Are you a foreigner?").  Thinking "WTF?", I responded  "bu shi Waiguoren!" ("不是 外国人!" "I am not a foreigner!")  It took a few seconds for it to register into their little brains that I was joking.  They then just continued to stare at me and I became very annoyed.  I would have loved to have grabbed their heads and banged them together.  As it was, I ate quickly and left in a huff.

You have to learn to expect to be stared at if you are going to spend more than a fortnight in China, but what those children was beyond the pale.  I would even say that their attitude to me was racist.  But they are children and they just don't know any better.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Incident at the Bakery

My wife told me to buy bread at the bakery near our school last night, but I didn't get her message till it was too late for me to do so.  So, I went to the bakery near our school the next afternoon and an incident happened that made me regret not having gotten my wife's message earlier the night before.

It was a Friday afternoon that I then went and the bakery was busy.  There were lineups ten people long.  I picked up two loaves of bread and some cheese cake for my son Tony; and then went to the back of one line that was beside a pillar.  I initially made the mistake of trying to join the line by the pillar which meant actually budding in line.  I saw the people lined up behind the pillar, quickly corrected myself and walked around the pillar to get to the back of the line.

I stood in the line for a few minutes when I noticed this woman standing beside me.  I suspect she had made the same mistake that I had initially made and was budding in line.  I tried to position myself in front of her but she stood right beside me.  But to be honest, I wasn't completely certain that the woman had in fact budded in line.  If she was going to contest the issue I was going to yield to her.  I didn't feel particularly hot-headed at the moment anyway.  Still, I persisted in jockeying for position in the line.

When the lady and I got to the front of the line, I put my purchases on the counter first.  There was one clerk bagging the purchases and another ringing the purchases in.  As soon as the two clerks finished dealing with the customer in front of us, the bagging clerk began to deal with my purchases and the cashier rang in one of my loaves of bread.  The woman, who was short with an angles of malevolence on her face, got very angry and so I gestured to the clerks to serve her first.  The woman continued to shout at the clerks.  I suspect that the bagging clerk then told her that she had budded in line.  This only made the woman more angry.  The clerk got very angry too and another employee had to pull her away from the customer.  Another customer, who stood behind me, tried to restrain the lady.  He even put his hand on my shoulder till he realized that I was then a bystander.  I just stood by thinking that the best policy on my part was to do nothing.  I did wonder if the lady was going to direct her ire at me.  Thankfully, the clerks then rang my purchase in quickly and gave me my change.  However, in my nervousness, I fumbled and dropped the change on the floor.  After picking up the change, I looked behind me to see a lineup of ten people just wanting the quarrel to stop so they could make their purchases.

I felt sheepish as I went back to school with my purchases.  As I was saying, I was not completely certain that the woman had budded in, and may have in fact been at the back of the line when I joined it.  Maybe, I should have just yielded to her.  But maybe the clerks did see that she had budded in line.  As it was, the incident was unfortunate.  Queue-jumping is rude and if the lady had done that, she deserve being chided by the clerk.  But with my not knowing for certain the she had, the proper thing for me to have done was to let to go completely.

Still I wonder.  If the lady had been in the right, would she have shouted so at the clerk, particularly since the clerk served her first in the end anyway?  Or did the clerk falsely accuse her?  Or was the lady trying to save face?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Early April Ruminations

  • 1,775,613 video views on my Youtube Channel.
  • The Major League Baseball season has begun!  I see that two more teams will qualify for the playoffs.  This is proof that my criticism of the Wildcard system was correct.  The Wildcard destroyed or watered down pennant races.  Now, there will be more incentives and necessity for teams with great records in the same division, to battle it out in September instead of being able to cruise to the playoffs as they had since the establishment of the Wildcard.  However, now there is a chance that a third place team will make the playoffs.  It would have been better if MLB had scratched its six division configuration and gone back to the four division setup of 1969 to 1993.
  • Did I mention I had students in a class named Xu and Xue?  I made a draft of an entry mentioning this but I can't remember if I published it and because I am in China I haven't got the patience to see if the entry was published.  Anyway, the problem of pronouncing their names was averted by one of them telling me his English name.
  • One of the students, at our school, teaches German in Changzhou.
  • I later saw five trucks of a Circus troupe (mentioned in an earlier entry) parked near a bridge** joining the Jiangyin and Hui Shan Districts.  The trucks were parked in the bicycle lane and the members of the troupe were seated about on the lane, on nearby grass and under trees.  The members looked like gypsies as the men and the women, many carrying babies, were camping out at  an area that was uninhabited and near a body of water.  However, I didn't see a camel.
  • That's it.  I will be lying low and waiting for my trip to Canada.

**this is the bridge from which I have taken many a trainspotting video.

AKIC Photo Links

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I woudn't want their jobs

These two fellows stand at the entrance of this newly-built apartment complex all day and wear snazzy uniforms. It seems that they are there for display and have no security function.

Wuxi has lots of new apartment complexes selling units and most of them have these fancily-dressed fellows on display, or I should say "on guard." This was my first opportunity to take a photo of them. Surprisingly they didn't mind me doing so and waved rather enthusiastically at Tony.

They remind me of the door people I have seen standing at Wuxi restaurant entrances for hours on end. To me it seems a degrading use of people. And yet these fellows didn't mind me taking a photo of them.

Chinese Holiday Bus Hell (sort of)

I shouldn't complain but unfortunately or fortunately, it is one of those default joys of life.  What I mean is that if nothing good can come from a situation, you might as well complain.  Nothing like getting something off your chest, I say.  It might be a heavy thing that stops you from breathing.  Of course, the letting go of the heavy thing does become someone else's burden which perhaps shows that complaining is a group activity, a shared activity.  So, if no one else shares your complaint, you may end up losing people by complaining.  But sometimes trying to be happy or less unhappy is going to annoy other people.  So, what the hell!

Wednesday was a public holiday in China which meant crowds, crowds, crowds, everywhere.  Crowds in the shops, crowds in the parks, crowds in the streets, but especially crowds on the bus and at bus stops.  It turned out that I had to work on Wednesday morning and Jenny had to work in the afternoon.  As soon as I finished what I was doing, I went to Jenny's place of work to pick up Tony.  I could have taken Tony to a park, but seeing the crowds everywhere made me want to go straight home.  

But it turned out not to be an easy thing to do this day.  I first had to carry Tony on my shoulders, for about five minutes though it seemed longer, from Jenny's work place to the nearest bus stop.  Tony and I waited for about fifteen minutes before our bus arrived but it was packed to the gills and the bus passed the stop without bothering to let anyone on.  

We waited another twenty minutes for the next bus, during which Tony became impatient and whiny, openly acting like I felt but couldn't myself act out.  Tony's whining was getting the attention of the others waiting at the bus stop.  It seems there is nothing better for Chinese to do than look at a foreigner with a whiny child.   Being stared at when I am not happy brings out desires to tell the lookie-lius to go f**k themselves -- always in retrospect, it is not a good thing to do.  And in retrospect this time, I didn't go beyond muttering to myself those filthy words.  

Our next bus came and it was even more packed to the gills than the previous one.  After standing in line to get on the bus, I said f**k it! and decided to do what I should have done after the first bus passed:  I took Tony to a stop that was earlier in the line to increase our chances of actually being able to get on.

Walking towards that stop, Tony kept whining and muttering Momma!  Momma!  Momma!  Being back at Mom's workplace seemed a better option than waiting a long time for a bus and then being carried about by an indecisive father.  Tony then saw a train pass -- we were walking parallel to a train line.  Tony wanted me to stop to watch the trains, but I continued on to the bus stop.  As  I arrived there, after some hemming and hawing, I decided I would take Tony to a pedestrian tunnel going under the train track to afford Tony more opportunities to see trains and placate him.  After we passed through the tunnel, I saw a road which I thought could lead to a good vantage point to watch trains.  We took the road, crossed a busy six lane road and found a grassy knoll from which we could see trains pass up only thirty meters away.

I was able to take some good trainspotting video for a future Scenes from my Life in Wuxi, China video.  Tony got off on seeing the trains pass by so closely.

We then went to the nearest bus stop and were just able to get on a bus without having to wait at all.  The bus was so packed that Tony and I had to stand on the bottom step of the entrance onto the bus which the way the waiting had been going, was not a bad thing.  And it turned out that a few stops later someone yielded the seat to Tony and me.

Scenes from my life in Wuxi, China #9

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tony is hogging the laptop.

Tony is hogging the laptop. I am making this entry on my IPod.

I tell Tony to embrace the future and use the IPad. He isn't interested .

Sent from my iPod

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Kaulins Boys snore!

Jenny informed Andis that he and their son Tony snored last night. Andis, Jenny said, snored particularly loudly and that, in the middle of the night, she pushed him so that he stopped snoring. But the silence only lasted for a few moments and Andis resumed his sleeping symphony accompanied by Tony.

Andis asked Jenny if she took a video. Jenny said she was too tired to do so.