Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 24 to September 30 Blog Entry

This week was a short work week for me due to the October holiday.  It wasn't all good though.  Problems with my VPN have kept me from uploading videos to Youtube.  Fuck the Great Firewall!

Gratitude  Thank God for holidays!

Acknowledgement I am the villain in my life story.

Request  I need an opportunity to help my wife and Tony.

Canada ain't cool
Canada is better than cool.

Canadian Hockey Players weren't able to keep their cool in the 72 series against the Russians.  But Hockey has never been a game to keep one's cool.

Links of the Week

Quotes of the Week.
Most people just won't re-think, period. Henry Ford famously said hat 95% of people would rather die than think. Weidner's corollary to that rule is that 99% of people would rather die than re-think. (from Random Jottings)

Economics, as Keynes and Hayek( and Marx) knew well is subject to politics, morality, human desire and self-discipline (or the lack of it) habit and tradition. Not to mention the existence or non-existence of the rule of law, the thing which I tend to feel is vital to any truly successful state, and which is itself founded on Christian principles.  (Peter Hitchens -- the brother of Christopher.)

The Wuxi Corrupt Officials
The official NFL Fantasy Team of Wuxi Expats:  The Wuxi Corrupt Officials are 2-0 to begin the 2012 NFL Fantasy Football Season.  They won their second match-up 120-57.

I finished reading Our Mutual Friend, Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

I have begun to read the Devils by Dostoevsky and a History of the Long March.

I have discovered  more podcast of interest on Itunes:  Three Martini Lunch, Russian Rulers History, Popup Chinese and Grammar Girl Quickes.  The first Three Martini Lunch podcast is a short and concise right wing and conservative podcast telling the listener all he needs to now about U.S. politics.  The Russian Rulers History podcast is as good as the Chinese History Podcast and Dan Carlin's Hardcore History.  Popup Chinese is useful.  I like its ten minute Mandarin lessons.  They are very informative.  However, when you download the Popup Chinese podcast, you get the Sinaca Podcast where a group of journalists talk about Chinese current affairs.  That podcast can be useful but I have been turned off by its Leftist tone.  Listening to the podcast about the Japanese Chinese island dispute, one of the guests compared a nationalist movement in Japan to the Tea Party.  The guy didn't know WTF he was talking about.

Death of Brutus and the Death of My Dad
Reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the character Brutus has to confront the fact that he is going to die.  He did it seemingly bravely.  I thought about my experience of death - my father's, and I recalled how my father, when told he was going to die, was brave about it too.

Fingerprint taken at work
Instead of swiping a card when I check in and out of work, I will be giving the finger.  That is, I will be inserting a finger in a machine that can recognize my finger print and indicate that I have clocked in.  The school is using this technology because its Chinese workers have found a way to abuse the card-swiping machine.  One Chinese worker will swipe in say three cards: one for his or her self, and the cards of the other workers who can then come in later.

Chicken Hot Pot
I made a video of our trip (that is Jenny and I) to a Chicken Hot Pot Restaurant on Wu Ai Road.  At these types of restaurants, there are cages of chickens by the restaurant entrance.  Patrons can choose or see the chicken that is to be killed and then cooked for them.

If I resolve this week's VPN issues, you will be able to see the video, There's Good Eating in Wuxi #2, on Youtube.

No seat on the bus for Tony & Dad
So an old man beckons Tony to sit with him.  Tony looks with fear at me.  I tell him its okay.

This is a common practice in China for an old person to put a stranger's child on his or her lap on a crowded bus.

Tournament #8
I don't play computer games like many other English teachers in China, thankfully.

What I do is stage multi-team tournaments where the results are determined by the tossing of coins.  I have done this for over forty years.  I remember one time in Kunming where lacking for company, I staged a tournament in my hotel room.  I amused myself with hotel stationery and a coin.

Now, I toss coins on my Ipod Touch and have custom made printed forms to record my results.

This week,  I started my tournament #8.  It has 32 teams divided into eight groups of four, and two leagues of sixteen.  

The tournament starts with each group playing a three game round robin tournament.  Each team's standing in the four team group will determine what competitions they can participate in for the rest of the tournament.  The first place teams gain berths in the tournament championship and in its league championship (League #1 comprises groups 1 to 4.  League #2 comprises groups 5 to 8)  The second place team in each group earns a berth in the league championship and in a tournament championship qualifying playoff.  The third place team earns a berth in the tournament qualifying knock-out tournament.  The fourth place team is eliminated from further competition.

In Tournament #8, the two league championships will be eight team single knock-out affairs. So there will be quarterfinals, semifinals, and a league championship game.

There will be twelve teams in the tournament championship.  The eight group winners will earn berths in the tournament.  The other four berths will be determined as a result of knock-games involving the sixteen second and third place teams.  The second and third place teams from Groups 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8 will each have one berth to compete for respectively.  So three teams from each of the pairs of groups will qualify for the tournament championship.

The championship tournament will have three rounds.  

The first round will have four groups of three teams.  Each group will play a single game round robin.  The top two teams from each group will advance to the second round.  The third place teams will be eliminated.  

In the second round, there will be two groups of four teams.  The two groups will play a single game round robin with a game already played in the first round between the two qualifying teams in each group being counted as a round robin game for the second round standings.  

The first place team in each of the second round groups will earn a berth in the semifinals of the third round: the Championship playoffs.  They will play the winners of the qualifying playoff games between the second and third place teams in each group.  The fourth place team is eliminated.  The semifinal winners will advance to the tournament championship game.

Only once has a team achieved a triple; that is: a group title, a league title, and the tournament championship.  Team G did in this in tournament #2.

Team Y won tournament #7.  They defeated Team P 5-4 in the final.  Trailing 4-0 early in the game, Team Y tied the game with their last toss, and then went onto win the game and the championship in extra tosses.

  • Three days till my holiday begins.
  • I found a podcast about Canadian History.  The podcasts are about eight minutes long.  I download about four at a time.
  • The VPN hasn't been working so well lately.  I worry that I won't be able to upload my videos to Youtube.
  • I did an English Corner about fathers.  One student told me her father died when she was seven years old.  Another told me she hated her father because he had a bad temper.
  • I say someone in a photo looks like someone else.  The person I was speaking to said I was insulting that someone in the photo because the someone else was ugly.  Talk about Chutzpah!  And me being slow on the take, I didn't point it out.  It wasn't I who said anyone was ugly.

  • The sign of which I took a photo, has been filled with signatures.  Reminds me of 1972 when Team Canada was getting posters filled of signatures from Canadian hockey fans.  Although, the nationalism on display in 72 was far more innocuous than what I just witnessed in Wuxi.  I can never see Canadians, even in these days of fatuous "Canada Kicks Ass" nationalism signing posters saying Hans Islands belongs to Canada.
  • While having breakfast at the McDonald's at the corner of Xueqian and Zhongshan roads, I saw a old bearded man with one crutch pulling a cart through the intersection against traffic.  It was astounding sight because the man looked like he had just come from the 19th century and he dodged traffic like Eddie Murphy in the movie Bowfinger.
  • I had a class with a Japanese student in the morning.  I asked her about what had been happening in China vis-a-vis Japan, and she didn't seem to be at all worried.
  • I told the students I liked to travel by train.  They thought me nuts.  It seems their only experience traveling the train is during the holidays where any kind of travel is torturous.

  • Riding the bus, I sometimes pass this huge construction pit.  I would say it is about 30 meters deep and the width of several football fields laid side-by-side.  I didn't notice until today that a canal was running right next to the pit.  How is it that the water or even the canal itself is prevented from flowing into the pit?  Shows how much I know about engineering.
  • I realized I have mixed feelings about the local traffic cops.  Chinese driver, pedestrians and cyclists do awfully selfish things in traffic and my sense of Canadian order wants to seem them punished.  But these cops represent the state which is often high-handed in its dealings with the population who can't be blamed entirely for ignoring the rules the state tries to impose on them.
  • I pass this old man on Zhongshan Road.  He was sitting on the front steps of some business, and looked at me with the curious look that I often get when I pass a local.  He had a slight built and was dressed like a teenager.  His wrinkled face and the glasses he was wearing gave him a dignified and thoughtful countenance.  So his whole being looked so incongruous to me as I passed.
  • It is the 40th anniversary of Paul Henderson's three wonderful game-winning goals against the hockey team of the Soviet Union.  I have made entries, breaking my weekly blog entry habit, to celebrate it.
  • Fa Piao.  Every time, I go to the restaurant, I have to get the Fa Piao, a tax receipt that I must give to the cash lady at school in order to reduce the amount of social security tax I have to pay.  Sometimes, asking for Fa Piao seems to really put out the restaurant.  One restaurant has lost my business because it takes it time in giving me the Fa Piao.
  • The topic for this afternoon's English Corner will be about friends -- something I don't know much about.  Ha Ha!  I will try to segue or segueway to segway to the topics of misanthropy and lonerliness.
  • A holiday for me, but Tony had to go to school.  When I sent him off to school, I promised him we would go trainspotting in the evening.
  • I am happy to not be going to school.  Lazy students drive me mad and make classes pointless.
  • I must have arthritis in my hip.  Some days, it hurts something fierce and it is hard to stand up.  Then, inexplicably, the pain goes away.
  • I complained about neighbors across the way having a dog.  This morning, I heard the honking of duck.  Someone was probably going to cook it today.
  • Team Z defeats Team BB 8-7 in the first round robin game of the group 7 round robin.  Team Z is the defending group and league #2 champion (Tournament #7).  BB won league #2 championships in Tournament #4 and #6.
  • At the local Tesco, I saw a foreigner.  Unfortunately, it was a foreigner I knew and didn't like.  He was once a teacher at our school.  We had fired him and were glad to see the last of him.  Last I heard, he had left town.  So I was stunned and disappointed to see him shopping in my part of Hui Shan.  Some English teachers wander around China, getting fired from one school and then easily finding another school that will hire them.  Hopefully, I and this example of this school-jumping teacher never come close to crossing paths again.  He seemed like a nice person at the interview and the true darkness of his personality came out as soon as he started working.
  • Mashed potatoes for supper.  That makes my day.
  • Tony thought I had asked him to play train videos.  We didn't go out.  Tony wanted to watch train videos on my computer.
  • We will get up at eight a.m. says the wife.  I didn't believe this would happen, and as it is now 830 a.m., my disbelief has been shown to have been justified.
  • The plan: go to Li Hu. (I have a yodeling story idea for my Wuxi China Expatdom Blog).
  • Later: we do go to Li Hu.  On the way, Tony and I looked at the animals in the Nanchang Pet Market.  At Li Hu, we wandered around.  We went into an amusement park that had a very tall Ferris Wheel.  Tony was upset because he wanted to ride the cool rides in the park, but couldn't because he was too young and short.  He eventually rode the rides that his age and size permitted him to ride, like the Ferris Wheel.  I took lots of photos and video of course.
  • Scene:  Newly built road.  Area through which the road runs is full of half-demolished houses and fields of rubble.  Red China flags have been hung on the surrounding street lamps for national day.
  • Two of my favorite writers, Peter Hitchens and David Warren, are anti-car.  They like to mention in their columns that they don't have cars, and I think they have enough money that they could if they wanted.  They both say that they hate cars for the ugliness and anti-humanity  they bring to urban environments.  Of this, they are undoubtedly correct.  In China, where more and more people have cars, and the normal civilized rules of parking and moving on the road aren't followed, government urban planners have created environments full of concrete that are very ugly and depressing to behold.  The planners have created these environments to conform to an idea of a modernity that they believe is car-friendly.  The end result is that any free space has a car parked on it and you can't walk anywhere without having to make way for a car or cross four to six lanes of traffic to get anyway.  The New China will no longer have the compact neighborhoods full of narrow lanes that I love to walk through.  Instead, it will be consist of apartment complexes with tall buildings separated by roads and grass that quickly deteriorate into rubble and muck.
  • The brakes of the 25 bus doth squeak too much.

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