Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Wuxi China Metro Construction Update: August 2012

I saw a works car riding the tracks of the Wuxi Metro Line on my way to work last week.  I was able to snap two quick photos of it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Blog Entry for July 23 to July 29

Gratitude  Acknowledgement  Request

If I make but weekly blog entries from now on, I should include this feature.  I got the idea from the man who writes the Jewish World Review Website.  It was his formula for making prayers where one thanks the Almighty, acknowledges one's faults and then makes requests.  

I used the simple formula for making the eulogy at my father's funeral.


I am thankful for being alive.  I am thankful for having Jenny & Tony.  I am thankful for all my father did for me in my life.  I am thankful for the local who offered his seat to me on the bus on Thursday morning.  


I first quickly declined the offer, made by a local, of an empty seat on the bus Thursday morning.  (For some reason, the locals treat foreigners on the bus like they are seniors or pregnant woman.) I was feeling in a rare generous mood and thought it was best that some other person take the seat since I usually have good luck getting seats on the bus.  I also had already put myself into resignation mode and wasn't expecting to sit anyway.  I was stoked to stand on the bus for forty five minutes and listen to some right wing talk radio podcasts.   But I then became tempted to take the seat as no one else made a move toward it.  However, just as I gave into temptation, a woman who was pregnant went to take the seat, giving me an opportunity for some gallantry which I readily acknowledge I don't do enough of.


You are not wearing a hat!

That is what I understood  a local say to me on Monday which was a hot and glaring day in Wuxi.  The temperature is 33 Celsius buts felt like 46.

In fact, the weather was hot and sunny for the entire week of the 23rd to the 29th.

What can I do on my day off?

Not much.  Doing anything requires sweating profusely.

My day off is Monday over the Summer.

Against Gun Control, I am.

Why?  A lot of reasons.  

But it goes back to what a Chinese person told me about the medical system in China.  He didn't want the government running it he said because when the Communist government ran restaurants, there were no restaurants.  And if you let the government be in charge of defending people, they will similarly do a crappy job of it.

They have gun control in the PRC.  The party in China doesn't want their citizens to have guns.  Not because they wish to protect their citizens -- some inconvenient ones will have to die in order to keep order (party control) -- they want to minimize the chances of insurrections.

People who want gun control have a totalitarian impulse.  "Why should people have guns!" they ask.  They can want what the fuck they want, I say, if it doesn't affect me.

If you ban guns, only the bad guys will have them.

If you ban guns, because of what happened at Aurora, you should also  ban comic books.  The guy was influenced by them, of that there could be no doubt.  But then someone would rightly say, that was just one nutcase, and most comic book readers don't act out what happens in them.  Similarly, most people don't use their guns to kill others.  Comic books, if use as intended, will stimulate people's imaginations.

Far more people are killed because of abortion than because of guns.  And yet the people who want gun control, also seem to want abortion.

A well armed society is a polite society.

People have a right to defend themselves.

Good people should have the right to choose if they want to own a gun or not.

Guns are a deterrence.  I have heard people drone on about how guns if used what they are intended for kill people.

Evil will always find a way.  Two of America's greatest mass civilian murder incidents didn't involve guns:  Oklahoma City and 9/11.

If enough people don't decide to follow the social contract.  For example, they decide to drive into you from the opposing lane of traffic, there is not much the government can do.  Gun violence seems more a cultural thing than simple an issue of the availability of guns.

TLOTR and Our Mutual Friend.

I am trying to read these two books now.   I read some of Our Mutual Friend standing on the Bus on Thursday thanks to the Ipod.

I like one story in OMF where a man walks up to another and tries to talk him into giving him a job.  The man wanted to be the other's secretary and butler.  Now, that is something I would like to do.  Tell an employer of a job I could do for them that they hadn't even thought of like butler or secretary.

I read a chapter of Tolkien's classic before I go to sleep.

Earthquake in Yangzhou?

I heard that there was an earthquake in Yangzhou which is about 200 km from Wuxi and close to my in-laws home.  Asking the students about it, they treated the whole story as a joke.  The earthquake wasn't felt in Wuxi or at my in-laws village.  I wonder if there was some other explanation for the Earthquake.

Great Great Grandmother

One of the students told me and after a few minutes of confirmation, I believe, that she has a great great grandmother.  She is now a hundred years old.  

I wondered about her birth certificate and who issued it to her if she had one.

Rich Girl

I did a one-on-one V.I.P. salon class with a student.  Normally, a salon class is meant for eight students, so I had to think of a lot more questions to ask the girl.  Looking at my class plan, I had an exercise where I asked the students where they had bought something that they had brought with them.  I asked the girls where she bought her shoes and she told me that they were Ferragamos that she had bought at the nearby Ba Bai Ban.  I asked where she bought her watch and ring, and she told me that she had bought them at the Cartier Store, also in Ba Bai Ban.


I recall that before Game Three, played in Winnipeg, of the epic 1972 Canada Russia Hockey Series, that there was a moment for of silence for the Israeli Olympic Athletes who had been so recently massacred at the Munich Olympics.

Obviously something should be done to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre at the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, but efforts to have this happen have been strongly rejected by the IOC and their president Jacques Rogge.  WTF are they thinking?  Shame on them and the whole Olympic movement.  If the Arab countries don't like it, screw them.  Maybe they can rejoin the Olympic movement when they become civilized countries.

Air Conditioning

It has been hot and sunny all week.  Thank God, I have an air-conditioned office to sit in.

My Cough: The Second Week.

My deep phlegmy copy has been with me for a second week.  I have gone through about ten packages of Halls.

I caught it from my son Tony.

2,000,000 Views of My Videos

There have been two million views of my videos on both Youtube and Youku.

My Chinese Social Insurance Card

I got my Chinese Social Insurance Card Friday.  I am not sure what I can do with it.  My wife says I can use it at the hospital.  

All the foreign trainers at my school have gotten the cards because they have now pay a social welfare tax of some sort.

Showing the card to my wife, she sighed and said that I had to to pay the tax like she had been doing.

Getting a Chinese Tourist Visa

The first two times I came to China, in 2003 and 2004, it was easy to get a tourist visa.  I paid my money at the Chinese Consulate and got it lickety-split. 

I have learned, from the experience of someone who similarly came in China in 2004 on a tourist visa, that it is not so easy now to do this.  The paperwork required for a Chinese tourist visa seems to have become as onerous as it is for the Chinese who apply to get a tourist visa to Canada or the United States.

People who think they can come to China to teach on a tourist visa are going to have a much harder time to do so. 

Watching the Olympics live in China

Forget about it!   Unless, you are willing to get up at an ungodly hour to do so.

Daddy's Ipod!

My son Tony said this on Saturday night.  I find it worth mentioning in this blog because Tony has always said it was his Ipod.

He said the Ipod was his Daddy's because he must have somehow understood a conversation I was having with a wife.  With my current mobile phone, a Nokia, having suffered the black screen of death, we talked about the possibility of getting an I-phone. To get the I-phone, it turned out that I would have to sell my soul to the devil.  I could get the I-phone, says my wife, I do something I don't really don't want to do.  I was tempted nonetheless, but then thinking about my Ipod, I asked my wife what would be done with it.  She said to give the Ipod to Tony who can use it to play games.

Tony hearing this said "No!  It is Daddy's Ipod! and I fell out of my seat in surprise.  After many attempts to get Tony to admit the Ipod was Daddy's, Tony did so, but only because he didn't like the idea of it being handed down to him because Daddy had something cooler.

Anyway, it is probably not a good idea for me to get an I-phone.  A cheap phone that can make phonecalls and send text messages is all I need.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Lovely Wife Jenny

Photos of Andis with No Hat Taken on July 23

I posted two photos in hopes that in one of them, you will see the ring I am wearing.  My mother gave it to me after my father's death -- it was his wedding ring.   I have been wearing it along with my wedding ring for sentimental reasons.  I plan to give Dad's wedding ring to Tony -- hopefully it can be his wedding ring and he will be able to wear it as long as my father did -- nearly fifty years.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My father's 80th Birthday.

My father was born 80 years ago on July 23, 1932 

Alas, Arnis Kaulins didn't quite make it to celebrate this milestone, having died on May 28th.

It tears me up that I can't be sending him birthday wishes and that he didn't linger longer than the Doctors said he would in late May.

I am trying to honor  his memory in my own way with a page dedicated to him on one of my blogs.  In one way, doing this is good because it makes me feel how much gratitude I have to my father for all he did for me.  It also fills me with regret that I was so far away from him for the later years of his life.  Looking at the old photos on my Arnis Kaulins page, I now realize that there were so many things I should have asked him.

I hope he is up there somewhere and I will be able to interview him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Observations from the week of July 16 to July 22

Weekly Summer Blog Entries

I will be making one written blog entry per week for the Summer.  Life is pretty regular here, and all that happens to me is I see things that I wish I could have photographed.

Shitting on the Street

Walking to the bus stop from my apartment, I saw a boy, about eight years old, taking a crap on the street.  He was squatted near the sidewalk so I took a wide berth away from him and walked close to the nearby restaurant that I think his parents owned.

Even though I have seen this behavior before, I still couldn't believe it.  There was a boy, easily in the view of passing traffic, squatted with a big pile of turds beneath him.

Macaroni & Cheese

In the lunch room at school, the IT Guy did a double-take as he saw me eating mac and cheese.  What the heck was he eating?  he was obviously thinking to himself.  The mac and cheese I had brought back from Canada.

Blocked in

Monday, I had the family e-bike parked in a corner of a parking garage.  A car parked nearby and I couldn't get the e-bike out for a day because it was completely blocked off. 

It was my lone afternoon off  for the week.  My plans to take Tony for a ride in the countryside had been ruined.


So, I ended up taking the bus with Tony to Qianzhou -- the boonies as far as Wuxi was concerned.  Nowheresville had a lot of buildings and people, and I was made aware, yet again, of how China has so many people.

Driver and Cyclist

On the way to work Thursday, I saw a driver, of a red Mazda, stand near a cyclist who was clutching himself in great pain.  The female's car had hit the cyclist knocking him over the curb onto some grass.

I couldn't help but think the driver was hamming it up in hopes of getting more money from the car driver.

I also couldn't help but think that the driver should have learned not to cut her turns so sharp.


Tony had a thick cough for a while.  Now, Jenny and I have it.  In the middle of the night, I will have a coughing fit, as well as in every class I teach.  Medicine and Halls aren't helping.

1,800,000 Views on My Youtube Channel!

Not much, I know.  But it a milestone, nonetheless.

Quantity not Quality

I got to spend a large quantity of time with Tony; it increases the chances of there being quality time.  Nothing ever goes as planned with Tony.  The good times happen independently of my preparation to try to bring them on.  And Tony always has his own agenda.


A teenage student was wearing a cap, in the current fashion with mesh and straight brim, that said "OBEY."  Obey Who?  I asked.  This being the PRC, I wondered, if possibly, the party was trying to be hip.

Nut in Aurora

The story of that evil person killing all those people in the cinema got my attention on Friday night. 

It is proof we need gun control?  Of course not!  (Although I heard one person go on about it at work)  It only shows us that there is evil in the world.  Anything can be used to kill a person if one is so inclined.

Good people have the right to defend themselves in the manner they see fit.

And then I heard about....

Steve Reid 

The father of my nephew and niece, I learned, was killed in a driving accident on Thursday.  My prayers go out to Kyle and Steph.

At the Square

It was Saturday evening and I didn't have to be at school, so I had supper at home with the wife and son -- something I wish I could do every day.

After supper, I took my son, via E-bike, to the local people's square.  There were hundreds of people there.  Many were dancing, some were roller-blading, some were sitting, and some were doing Tai Chi  At one instance, I wanted to get away from Tony and watch a mob of dancers move to faster song.  It looked like an outdoor disco.  Unfortunately, all the people at the square were doing their thing in the dark so I couldn't take any photos like of the people doing Tai Chi who were quite graceful.

Tony was playing with a water-gun toy his mother had bought.  The toy really wasn't a gun in that it didn't look like a gun and had no trigger.  It was just a long tube which could suck water in and then spray it out.

Tony wandered around the pools in the square and thankfully didn't get anyone but himself wet.  However, he fell in one of the pools when he tried to use his water gun like it was a cane.  The water gun slipped and so did he in the water.  I was a second too late to catch him.  The water was shallow so I all I really had to worry about was the wrath of my wife when I got home.  Mishaps are a part of childhood, but my wife takes these thing seriously.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mid-July Whatchawawhoseits

What's the narrative?  Damned if I know.  I am just trying to slog it through another humid Wuxi summer.  My blogging has been less regular but I am trying to blog by collecting bits of observations here and there.

Romney or Obama?

I have been asking the students this question.  Some of them, that is the ones who don't say they don't care, have told me they want Obama to win.  When I asked them why, they told me they didn't know anything about Mitt Romney.  I then told them this sounded like a case of better the devil you know than the one you don't.

Professor or Businessman?

After lukewarm response to the Obama - Romney question, I then asked the students if they would vote for a Professor or a Businessman to be their leader.  A  majority of them said they would vote for the professor.  (I would vote for the businessman.  Professors are very likely to be practical people.)


The heat of the Wuxi Summer is driving me insane.  It is making lazy and incapable of any concentrated thought.


The heat is humid here which means lots of rain coming down in buckets.

Kids?  No!  Brats!

Lots of Kids coming to our school in summer?  No!  Lots of brats coming to our school in summer.

Actually, there doesn't seem to be that many kids coming this Summer.

One Party

Many of the students don't like the fact that China has only one political party, and they are openly telling me this in class.


Reaction to My Haircut

A few people have said my haircut makes me look gay.  However, those who were of good will [sic], have said: I changed from looking respectable to more sexy looking in a bad boy way; I looked like a U.S. Marine (people who should, but never in a million years, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize); I looked better with my old hair style; and I looked more aerodynamic.  However, most just expressed surprise without offering any opinion.

Encounters on the Street

I had a couple of encounters of note on the street:  first with a local and then with a foreigner.  

The first was pleasant enough.  I was crossing the sidewalk on the way to my bus stop when this short Chinese man, of modest status, caught my eye and gave me a friendly nod.  I nodded back and looked him over.  Beside being of modest status, for he could have been a street person, he looked the type who had never before encountered foreigners.  He wore old clothes, a dirty cap, and a thin and straggly beard -- he had probably never shaved in his life.  Catching my eye again, he gave me another friendly nod and then another after that.  I felt slightly embarrassed but the man's need to acknowledge me and have me acknowledge me stuck with me.  Still, I wished I had given him a long hug.  If everyone could be like that all the time to everyone! 

The second encounter with the foreigner was enough to sap my spirit.  I was walking to a convenience store when this man, who I had never seen before, greeted me in a familiar manner.  I didn't know him from Jack Robinson, so it was awkward till I told him that I didn't know him.  He tried to excuse himself by saying I looked like someone he had talked to the previous evening, after he had drunken eight bottles of some local brand of beer.  Not wanting to seem unfriendly, all the while thinking what a lush because he was talking with a slur, I continued conversing with him and I learned that he had been in Wuxi for a week and was working at some school for children.  I also learned that He had just finished work for the day and that he was heading to the same convenience store as I was.  There, I bought some ice tea; he bought three bottles of beer.  

The English teacher that gives all English teachers a bad name, as he crawls into his bottle after having taught a class!

Side Effect

What is a side effect of taking medicine I asked the students.  One student said death.

Yes, death can be a side effect of taking medicine!

The Italian Restaurant

Four pizzas this week at the Italian Restaurant that is down the lane from our school!


A student, I was talking to, told me he went to a school with foreign and Chinese teachers.  He thought it was strange that the foreign teachers didn't like to teach before nine a.m..  He also observed that the foreign teachers liked to get out of the school as quickly as possible when their final class ended and head off to some party.  The Chinese teachers stayed after class to finish their work.

I then asked the student about the difference in teaching methods between the Chinese and Foreign teachers.  The Foreigners, he told me, liked to ask questions; the Chinese teachers just talked.  Asking whose method he preferred, he told me, the Chinese because he was never able to stay attention for an entire class.


Fapiao is Pinyin for an official tax receipt.  I have been having to collect fapiao because of new laws requiring foreigners to pay some social security tax.  We can get tax deductions if we collect fapiao when for paying for things like meals at restaurants.  

I was just told that if you ask for fapiao, some places will charge you extra.  They would rather do their dealings without fapiao to save money for themselves and their customers.  Seems rather corrupt if you ask me but this is China.

Waiter Forgot His List

This is how Groupons work in China:  If you use them to go to a restaurant, you will get inferior service and smaller-than-normal portions.  Waiters will tell you that they lost the paper on which they had recorded their order.

This would be the sign of complete incompetence in a profession.  The equivalent of a taxi driver forgetting to bring his taxi with him.  But I had a student tell me that this has happened to her a lot in restaurants.  

Incompetent, unless it is done on purpose.

London Olympics:  the Students Don't Care

Actually, I couldn't care less either, but I do like the feeling of shared indifference, this "I don't care either!"  None of the twenty five students I asked in my English Corner said they were excited by the upcoming London Olympics.

The way I see it, the Olympics seem to be a festival for government workers, and so must be a waste of money.  A lot off effort and money is put into hosting a two-week long event -- more than is warranted for a sporting event.

I also notice that as I get older, the interval between successive Olympics seems to get shorter.  The four years between 2008 and 2012 seemed to have been but a fortnight while the four years between 1972 and 1976, the first Olympics I can remember, seemed to have taken ten years.

Why Are You Late?

An adolescent-age student arrived at class five minutes late for a ten o'clock Sunday morning class.  He said he was late because of traffic.  I didn't believe him.  I told he was probably lying and had slept in.  He denied this but after I grilled him for a few minutes, he revealed that he had woken up at 920.

His manner as he entered, gave him away.

Not Easy to Get Tourist Visas for China

Apparently, it is harder to get a Tourist Visa for China.  It used to be that all you had to get was pay your money and fill out a form.  Now, you have to provide financial information like a bank statement.

In one way, I am glad to see this being done.  I have seen too many people go to Hong Kong to get a tourist visa so they can come back to China and work illegally.

Couch Potato

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More Old Photos

I have been spending my computer time playing around with the photo albums I had scanned in Canada.  I am slowly but surely putting the better photos online.

Here a photo I just uploaded to my page dedicated to my Arnis Kaulins:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trainspotting in the Gloamin'**

Andis spent a rare Friday evening at home with his wife, and son and so he wondered what to do to make the most of it.  Usually, he was teaching English on a Friday evening and wouldn't get home till past ten p.m.  But he had secured some leave from his school on account of his father having died during his vacation.  With the weather being so humid this Friday, Andis was tempted to stay home.  However, he would have none of this and decided he was going to take his son Tony for an e-bike ride in the area near his home.

Andis and his family lived in a suburb of a small Chinese city that was being built up by the local government.  Whether the local government was that of the city of which the suburb was a part or the local government was that of the suburb itself, Andis couldn't determine.  Whoever the authority was, the area around Andis's apartment was seeing lots of construction.  Andis reckoned he had seen a hundred apartment buildings and scores of office buildings being built.  And there was also a finished high-speed train line and a subway route under construction.  

Not but ten years before, the area in which Andis lived was very rural, or so he was told by a local he knew who could speak decent English.  Andis liked looking at and exploring the rural parts of the area in which he lived, but he noticed that in the few years he had lived in the area, the old and rural parts were disappearing, being torn down and replaced by more apartment and office buildings.

Andis had no trouble convincing his son Tony to go out of their apartment building and do some exploring.  Tony, when asked, said yes immediately.  So, off father and son went, down the stairs from their apartment to the e-bike that was parked in the lobby.

The e-bike was a beat-up thing.  It's back carrying case's lid was held on with tape which as also used to keep other parts of the e-bike's body together.  An accumulation of collisions and being parked in crowded places had contributed to its dilapidation.  The e-bike was still a keeper, however, because its main frame was solid, its tires were not flat, and its battery was new.

As Andis pulled the e-bike out of the apartment lobby, he had no place in particular that he wanted to go.  He drove the e-bike, with Tony sitting on the floorboard between his legs, in the direction of a local park where he was planning not to go because he had taken Tony there two consecutive days already.  Nearing the local park, Andis decided to ride to the O-park building, the most modern looking office building near his apartment.  

The O-Park Building, all plastic-surfaced and curvy, was the anchor building of an office building complex built by the local government to attract software companies.  The grounds in and around the park were worth exploring.  On either side of a nearby canal, there were walkways, stairs, promenades, pools, monuments, and piers which were ideal for strolling about and were e-bike friendly.  Andis thought to go to the building and then slowly work his and Tony's way back to their apartment along the canal.

Andis and Tony rode the bike path along a wide boulevard which lead to the O-Park.  They passed many other e-bikers, some of whom were carrying swimming floats.  Andis knew that these e-bikers were going to go to the park that he and Tony had been to the past two evenings.  This park had a small lake  which seemed an ideal place to swim in the very humid weather and so the place was crowded.  Andis wanted to avoid the crowds and explore an area more appealing to his eccentric tastes, so he continued along the boulevard to the "big O."

The boulevard had traffic signals.  Stopped at a red light at an intersection that was but a block from the O-Park building, Tony told Andis that he wanted to look at trains.  Ever seeking to please Tony, Andis instead of going straight as he was planning, almost immediately made a left turn.  Whether Tony knew it or not, he chose the right time and place to tell Dad of his desire to look at trains.  Making a left turn, Andis had only to go straight down another boulevard to get to their favorite spot to do some train spotting.

Andis and Tony happily rode their e-bike along the long, straight boulevard and eventually reached a  kilometer long bridge.  The bridge, accommodating four lanes of auto-traffic, had wide walking and cycling areas on both its sides.  It spanned over a river and some flat adjacent land.  Andis often took Tony here because it was a great place to throw stones and watch train traffic.  At the other end of the bridge, opposite from where Tony and Andis arrived, there was high-speed rail track which towered above the bridge.  The track was built on support columns that were easily one hundred feet tall.  From the bridge deck, one had a magnificent panorama of rail track to observe.  From left to right, one could watch trains ride for three or four kilometers.  Enough trains came by on the tracks to make train-spotting worthwhile.  Andis, estimated that in an hour, ten trains would pass.  And the area around the bridge had other interesting sights to pass the time between train ride-bys.

As their e-bike rode up an incline to get on the bridge, Andis noticed that the e-bike was needing to be re-charged.  With visions of himself having to ride the bike home with the power of his foot pushing against the pavement, Andis parked the e-bike in the center of the bridge, and coaxed Tony into walking on the deck to get closer to the rail tracks.

As they drove to the bridge, they were able to see, from a distance, a train passing by.  This meant that they would have to wait a bit for another train to come.  So they occupied their time by looking over the bridge's side barriers onto the river.  Standing at a position on the bridge that was over a bank, they saw a boat floating against a concrete-reinforced  and sloped bank.  The boat looked to be moored there permanently.  It was lit inside and its residents were tending to fields and ducks on land near the bank.  Ducks were swimming in the water.  Andis also observed a rat swimming to the boat's mooring ropes.  The rat got onto the rope and scurried to a spot under the boat where it could not be seen.

Usually, Andis and Tony came to the bridge in the afternoon.  This was the first time, they had come to it in the evening and and at a time of increasing darkness.  In the gloaming, Andis was at an advantage over Tony when it came to first spotting the train because he knew what to look for:  a headlight following the path of the track.  In the daytime, Tony could spot trains at a distance many seconds before his father could. 

So this evening, Andis spotted the first train coming.  He noticed that from a distance, the train was nothing but its headlights, the glare of which obscured the cabin lights. These lights for the passengers couldn't be seen until the cars came directly into view, which meant for Tony and Andis, the train was right over the bridge.

Seeing the train, Tony's first reaction was to say "I want to see one more!"  This was in fact what Tony said every time he had seen a train, and so Andis took it as Tony saying he liked what he had just seen.  This evening, Andis complied with Tony's request six times.

As they watched the trains pass by, they walked closer towards the tracks, looking at what was beneath the bridge to pass the time.  They saw lots and lots of ducks, for the bridge went over what seemed to be a duck range.  So Andis and Tony saw, right below, a herd of about a hundred ducks go beneath the bridge to another large open area on the other side of the bridge.

They also watched traffic pass on the bridge, including a lot of private cars, trucks, motorcycles, and e-bikes. Andis assumed that many of the e-bikes, carrying swim floats, were going to and from the park with the lake.

When the sixth train passed, Andis did 1-2-3 with his son which meant putting Tony on his shoulders and carrying him back to their e-bike which Andis hoped had enough power to get home.  Andis put the key in the bike and turned the accelerator and initially had lots of power, but as they got closer to their apartment, the bike slowed to a crawl.  Back at their apartment complex, Andis had to look for a spot to recharge.

Thankfully, a spot was easily found.  Father and son returned home after a pleasant night out.

**The Homer in the Gloamin' is one of the most famous walk-off home runs in baseball folklore, hit by Gabby Hartnett of the Chicago Cubs near the end of the 1938 Major League Baseball season.  That's the allusion in this entry's title.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two Old Photos

You can see more here or here in my photo albums I have set up.

The little person in the two photos is me.  Looking at the first photo, I thank God that my father wasn't a hippie.  He looks so handsome.   Showing the second photo to my son Tony, I asked him if was Daddy.  He said "No!  That is Baby Daddy!"

Scenes from my life in Wuxi China #13

Friday, July 6, 2012

A List of My Favorite English People

When the idea came to me to make this entry, I first thought to make a list of my top ten favoirte English people.  But as I thought more about the list, I realized I had more than ten who really had to be on the list.  For example,  I couldn't keep Queen Elizabeth II off the list as well as at least six English Rock musicians.

So, here is my list of my favorite seventeen (plus seven)  English people:

  1. William Shakespeare:   Of course, he has to be on the list.
  2. Charlies Dickens:  Ditto!
  3. GK Chesterton:  What a comfort he is to read.
  4. George Orwell:  Great Prose Stylist.  Too bad, he was a socialist.  And yet you have to admire him for writing 1984 and Animal Farm.
  5. Evelyn Waugh:  He is a sheer hoot to read.
  6. Margaret Thatcher:  Lefties loathe her which only makes her more outstanding in my eyes.
  7. Winston Churchill:  What a life he lead!
  8. Sir Kenneth Clark:  I have watched his documentary series Civilisation over and over and over again.
  9. Malcolm Muggeridge:  I love his writings.
  10. JRR Tolkien:  Love TLOR!
  11. William Blake:  A great poet!
  12. WH Auden:  Another great poet!
  13. Alec Guiness:  I have to have an actor in this list!
  14. Queen Elizabeth II:  I am a proud subject thereof.
  15. The Beatles:  As a collective I put them on the list.  Separately, they are.....
  16. Joe Strummer:  He is the list's token punk rocker.
  17. Monty Python:  As a collective, I put them on the list despite Terry Jones choosing Imagine as one of his desert island discs, and John Cleese contemptuous remarks about Sarah Palin.
Favorite English presences on the Internet:  The Git and Duff and Nonsense!

People I could have put on the list but didn't:  The Who, Johnny Rotten, Thomas Hardy, Alfred E Marshall, Cardinal Newman, Hugh Grant, Ricky Gervais, Roger Moore.

People who aren't eligible to be on this list but I wish were:  John Derbyshire, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Dostoevsky, Rush Limbaugh, Bobby Orr, Gary Carter, Joe Namath, Pele, Fred Hayek, Preston Manning, Guy Lafleur, Bruce Lee, Kierkegaard, James Stewart, Fred Astaire, TS Eliot, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Florence King, and Federic Bastiat.

And it goes without saying that this list is full of some terrible omissions. 

It is also full of inconsistencies, but I won't be slapping myself in the head and saying "Doh!" over this.  Instead, through the coming months, I will come across the name of some English person whose existence my memory didn't summon up during the week of July 1 to July 7, 2012, and then I will be slapping myself silly or in a pleasure-seeking manner.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Parents' Wedding Photo

I have added more photos to my Arnis Kaulins Page.

Here is the latest:

Smoking while Swimming

I am amazed at the locals' ability to hold a cigarette in their mouths, the cigarette dangling between the lips as it were, for long periods of time.  I can't do it.  I hold a cigarette in my lips for five seconds and I feel noxious.  I also don't know how these people can hold a cigarette in their mouths while they are on bicycles, electric bikes and motorcycles going at fast speeds and in the most inclement of weather conditions.  I tried once  to smoke and ride on my e-bike but quickly gave up.

This evening, I just saw another astounding -- to me -- example of a cigarette being held in the mouth.  I took Tony, on an e-bike, from Casa K to a nearby park with a small lake in it, around which there were boardwalks, piers and a small stretch of beach (very, very artificial).  With the day's high temperature being 37 degrees, many locals went to the lake to take a dip!  I and my wife wouldn't dare swim there because, as far as we are concerned, the lake water was far too dirty for swimming.  But hundreds of people didn't think so and they happily dived into the water.  A few of these swimmers were smoking and were wading in the water with a cigarette in the mouth.  Some of these swimmer-smokers were in the water up to their chests.  I would have thought that such smoking would not have been done because you can't smoke a wet cigarette.  And wouldn't you also need dry hands to light the cigarette?

Anyway, I could just imagine how lifeguards in Canada would react to a smoking swimmer.  They would go gestapo.

I can also report a couple other things I observed while wandering the park with Tony:
  1. Some people drove their automobiles right into the park on, what I thought, were paths meant only for pedestrians and cyclists.  To me it was equivalent of seeing someone drive their car on Vancouver's Stanley Park Seawall.  The Chinese here are new to the culture of automobiles and often seem to think cars can be taken anywhere bicycles can be taken.  In my apartment complex, barriers had been set up in front of sidewalks to stop drivers from driving all over the complex's grounds. The drivers thought this was an imposition and removed the barrier, driving their cars right to their apartments.
  2. The Park, we went to, usually doesn't have concessions.  But with the crowd there, a bunch of entrepreneurs appeared.  Some were selling drinks from a cooler.  Others were selling barbecued meat.  And one lady was doing swift business selling inflated swimming floats.

Mom's Away!! So What Are Dad and Son Doing?

Jenny has gone to her hometown where there is only well water to be had and the temperature is in the mid thirties Celsius.  She will be gone for twenty four hours.

Andis & Tony have stayed in Wuxi where they haven't yet left the apartment because it is too hot outside and Andis has mild diarrhea.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It Is Hot Outside!

Besides getting a haircut on Monday I....

Gave a Wuxi Local the Finger

I was walking towards the bus stop, near Casa K, with Tony and Jenny.  I didn't like the way this one local, who was walking from the bus stop past me, stared at me; so,  I glared back at him fiercely.  It just seemed to me like the guy didn't like the fact that I had a Chinese wife.  I kept staring at him as he walked past.  When he was at the point where his back was to me, he turned his head to look back at me.  I then gave him the middle finger.  He was taken aback and said something to a male who was accompanying him.  He then gave me a limp middle finger in return.  He continued walking away from me and kept looking back at me all the while.  I made a point of making him know I was staring at him.  Eventually, he got to a corner, about 100 meters from the bus stop, and made a turn out of view.

I suppose he will be telling his mates about the laowei who gave him the finger.

Watched About Seventy Minutes of the Euro 2012 Final

The Final started about 245 a.m. Monday morning, Wuxi time.   I stayed up for it and I can recall watching the match to about the 70th minute.  Spain was just so quick and skilled on their attacks on the Italian goal that I had to wonder how they hadn't score any goals against Portugal.  As it was, I saw them score two goals.  Italy's trips into Spain's half of the field were slow and prodding.  I fell asleep before Spain scored their third and fourth goals.   When I awoke, the broadcast of the match had completed and I had to check my Ipod to get the final score.

Swore Like a Sailor at the Xinhua Book Store

I took Tony to the Xinhua Book Store at the corners of Renmin and Jian Kang Roads.  Tony wanted to tell me where we were to go.  He wanted to look at toys.  I wanted to look at the foreign language book section.  When I did try to get to the foreign section, Tony protested vehemently annoying me to no end.  I wanted to slap him but instead I swore at him.  "You fucking little selfish shit!" I screamed, "Can't you wait but five minutes!"  My screaming and swearing very much got the attention of onlookers. One of them, a older man*, who worked at the store, tried to come over and be all friendly to me.  I glared at him** and he retreated, and I swore at Tony again.  "You fucking little shit!"  I saw a couple teenage girls laugh at me.

*I actually had a friendly conversation with that gentleman, and he was a gentleman, some time in the past.  Recollection of that kept me from saying anything rude to him.  I hate it when Chinese onlookers staring at me or trying to get involved while I am arguing with my son.

**I glared at the gentleman through the fog of my steamed glasses.  I don't know if the glasses were fogged because of my anger or because of the high Wuxi summer humidity.

Started to Read TLOR

I started reading my paperback copy containing all three books of the Lord of the Rings.

Came to a Realization

Reading about acting virtuously and then having a warm fuzzy feeling about the existence of God isn't going to stop me from becoming enraged by life.  I got to do much more.  I got to get involved with people having the same problems and inclinations as me. And I am not going to find these kind of people in Wuxi.

Andis & Tony

Sunday, July 1, 2012


35 Degrees. I forgot it was Canada Day.

 Hot, Hot, Hot!

It was very hot on the weekend in Wuxi.  So much so that the locals told me they hated it.  And I forgot it was Canada day till  just now.  

Canada Day!  Oops

Of course, I really can't blame the last thing on the heat.  It just slipped my mind as I had so many other things to think about (Dad's death and trouble at work.)  Plus I don't work with any Canadians in Wuxi. (Are there any Canadians in Wuxi? And if there are, are they the sort worth meeting?  Alas, probably most of them aren't anything like Conrad Black.)

Not that I was going to celebrate Canada Day anyway!

Euro 2012

I saw video of some Balotelli fellow scoring two goals against Germany in the semi final.  Two reactions I had.  One:  he was black!   What was a black fellow doing playing for Italy?  (He is of Ghanaian heritage.  He was  raised as a foster child by an Italian couple: the Balotellis.)  Two:  the pose he made, after he scored his second goal and took his his shirt off, was quite something. (I asked some middle school students if they never took off their shirts and made a pose after getting a good mark on a test.)

Joyce and Tolkien

With my Ipod touch, I often forget I am in China.  What with a plethora of podcasts to listen to (few having anything to do with China), my thoughts are transported elsewhere.  I read an article linked from the A&L Daily about James Joyce on the Ipod last night.  The next morning, I listened to an EWTN podcast about Tolkien, Catholicism and the Lord of the Rings.  I love both of these authors' masterworks:  Ulysses and TLOR.  Though the authors have completely opposite takes on Catholicism, both their works celebrate the little man.  

And I was all pumped to write a masterwork of mine own!