Monday, October 29, 2012

Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #31

You will see crabs, fish, a restaurant, Tony, Jenny, and the Wuxi Metro line.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 22 to Ocober 28, 2012 Blog Entry

Welcome to this weekly depiction of my quiet and measured existence.

Gratitude  What to be thankful for this week?   Well, I suppose there are plenty of things for which I should be thankful like life, my wife, and a current minimum of strife.  (I wrote this early in the week.  By the time, Sunday rolled around, the strife had become maximal.)
Acknowledgement  I have my moments of physical cowardice.  I remember crying, when I was in the Canadian militia, because of the kick from firing a 7.62 mm FN rifle.  I also have my moments of moral cowardice, but that is another story for another weekly blog entry: the acknowledgement or confession section.
Request  America. Vote for Romney!!  He isn't at all self-righteously narcissistic. 

The Wuxi Corrupt Officials
The Corrupts lost their first game of the season 86-25.  Three of their players had byes for the matchup -- that is, they didn't play in any games because their team wasn't scheduled and so the Corrupts had less players with which to score points.  The Corrupts are 5-1.

Canada Ain't Cool
America elected a cool guy to be president, and look where it got them.  Many Americans have looked North with envy at the uncool but efficient Prime Minister that the Canadians got.  We elected our cool guy in the 1970s, suffered on account of it, and are still trying to extricate ourselves from the damage he caused. 

Links of the Week
Shilobrats  CFB Shilo is a military base in southwestern Manitoba near Brandon.  I lived there on two occasions in 1976-77 and 1980-81.  My time there was bittersweet.  My days of loneliness began there.
The Language Police Are Retarded  After the third presidential debate, Ann Coulter tweeted this:  "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard."  Good on her for saying this.  Obama's approach to the debate was narcissisticly self-righteous like a Chicom trying to justify his party's lock on power in China.  

Leacock (Nonsense Novels, Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada), Shakespeare (Henry V), and Mary FitzGibbon (A Trip to Manitoba).

  • Day off.
  • It is raining.  I will be staying at home waiting for Tony to come back from school.
  • I published this entry in the WCE Blog.  If you don't want to look at the entry, I will tell you that it had the word philosopher in the title.  After I published the entry, I looked at my Gmail and I got a message from Twitter saying that some philosophy tweeter was following me.  This came about because I use Gmail to publish my blog entries.  The blogs are tied into my Twitter account so that the publishing is advertised on Twitter.  When I publish the blog entry, I will also get an email saying the entry had been published.  The email from my blog was immediately followed by the email from Twitter.
  • I had lunch at the Hui Shan Century Times Plaza.  I meet Michael, a local who lives in the area.  He tells me that there is a plan to open a Carrefour on Hui Shan Da Dao near the White House.
  • I was reading Stephen Leacock.  I was very amused.  I am full of ideas for the WCE Blog.
  • Tony's homework was to print the number 9 over and over again.
  • For Supper:  Hot Dogs.  I let them overcook so that they swelled and became bent out of shape, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.
  • I should have taken a photo while in the Hui Shan Tesco of these countrysiders who stared hard at me.  There were five of them standing so close together like they were afraid they lose each other if they even separated for a distance of more than a meter.
  • Mother Angelica gave the following example of false compassion.  A woman lets her husband and her mistress live with her.  When told she should kick them out, the woman says she can't because she worries they won't be able to survive on their own.  Mother Angelica said the woman should have kicked them out of her home anyway.  I have witnessed so much false compassion in my time in Wuxi, I don't know where to begin.  I should say that I am thinking of the foreigners doing this.  I remember seeing this kids being rowdy near our school.  They were kicking public benches trying to remove the slats.  When I wondered aloud why something wasn't being done about it, I had a trainer say to me that I was being harsh -- they were just kids after all.  Another example is the foreigner who mocks locals for listening to their parents.
  • I nearly watched all of the movie Cowboys versus Aliens.  I gave up on it with nine minutes to go because I figured I knew what was going to happen.  How I stuck with the movie so long seems as implausible to me as the movie's story was, but I did.
  • Tony sat with me on the bed as I played with the computer.  I had to show him train-related things.  He wasn't interested in watching the Chronicles of Narnia movie.
  • Day off for me.  Tony will have a short day.  He is going to the Three Kingdoms Park (pinyin:  San Guo Qian).  He had to get off to school thirty minutes earlier but will be home at 1:30.
  • I spend the morning on the laptop.  I listen to the third presidential debate, write an email to my sister, and edit future entries in my WCE Blog.
  • The third debate.  I will listen to it on the computer on the Fox News Radio site.
  • The weather:  Sunny.  Great for Tony's school field trip.
  • Breakfast:  Toast and Tea.  Mmmm!   Yummy!!!
  • Tournament Eight:  Team I defeats Team F 4 to 2 in a League One Championship Quarterfinal matchup.  Team I will meet Team A in a semifinal.
  • The Debate was supposed to be about Foreign Policy!  It is going off topic big time!  How did class sizes come up?
  • Personally, I prefer classes no bigger than one, if the one student is making the effort.  If your teaching style is interactive, class sizes of five or more don't work.  If you are lecturing, it makes no difference what  the size of the class is.  And lectures are probably the most inefficient way of teaching.
  • I ate fish, crab, and cauliflower at a restaurant in the Wanda Plaza.  All the while, I read Stephen Leacock's Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada.  The  restaurant was not so much a restaurant as a Dining Hall.  There were at least a hundred people in the room!
  • I work 1300-2100.  I do an English corner at 1400.  I teach a company class 1700-1900.  I return to school to teach an 2000 class. (classes are 55 minutes)
  • English Corner:  How are you?  Fine. Good. Okay. Not Bad.  What's New?  Anything New?  No.  Nothing. Not much.  It's a common day.
  • My mood:  What is the point of living?  No!!!  I am not contemplating suicide.  I have got responsibilities that I dare not escape.  But, I just can't see anything getting me excited at this point. 
  • No coins in my change purse.  I had to sneak into the coin can to resupply.  Usually this doesn't happen.
  • I was going to take the 602.  But then the 25 bus pulls in ahead.  The 25 has available seats.  So, I take the 25. It's nice to have a choice.
  • On the 25 bus, all wear jackets but the foreigner.
  • I work 1000-2100.
  • Weather: Rain, but not heavy.
  • A driver pissed me off as I was heading to work.  Here is what I tapped into My Ipod about it:  Asshole Driver:  You put a ******** in a car and he/she becomes an *******.  You can fill in the blanks.  Drivers don't yield to pedestrians here.  I saw a driver in a red Honda trying to make a right turn by weaving through crossing pedestrians.  I saw him head to his left hoping for a gap to drive through.  The gap, he was heading to, closed to him so he quickly headed to his right to a gap forming behind the pedestrians who had closed his first gap.  I took an immediate dislike to the driver's aggressive style and as I was heading in the opposite direction of these pedestrians, I made a point of it to block the second gap to the driver.  The driver was about to accelerate to grab the space the gap but I held my ground and continued walking to block the gap.  The driver had to stop and I saw him, with a look of unjustified consternation,  rapidly turning his steering wheel.   Later:  I fantasize about confronting him.  "You know, in civilized countries, drivers yield to pedestrians!"  I blame this habit on China having been a Communist country.  Communism and Socialism always produce the opposite effects that they intend among the population.  Instead of making people more courteous, Communism and Socialism forces everyone to be for himself.  This selfishness results in a decrease in material prosperity and public courtesy.
  • Later on the bus, I was feeling pissed at the other passengers.  One of them decided that he was going to exit the bus from the back door of a long three-door bus.  On these buses which are long, passengers are expected to exit from the middle door.  This guy decided that was going to exit the back door and so he crowded in onme, who had just gone on the bus, to the side.  I wanted to elbow him, but I held back.
  • Last night, in Tournament Eight, I finished the quarterfinal rounds of the two league championships.  I will play one set of league semifinals Thursday evening, the other set Friday evening, and play the two league championship games on Saturday.
  • A new thing that I have added to my routine at school.  When I arrive, and then after finally getting the machine to recognize the fingerprint of one of my middle fingers, I will pull out my Ipod Touch.  Near the check-in machine is reception and about the only spot in the school where I can get WiFi. I update my emails, sending the blog entries I just made on my Ipod to the Internet to places like my email account or my blogs.
  • I had one student in a 1000 am class.  I asked him about his plans for the rest of the day, and he told me that he was going to fire a BB gun with his friends.  Finding this an interesting way to spend one's mid-week afternoon, I asked him for more details.  He told me that he and his buddy were going to use the BB gun to shoot holes in cans and to kill birds.  He told me he got the BB gun on the Internet, even thought it was illegal.  "You can easily buy illegal things on the Internet in China!" he told me.
  • I work 1100-2100.
  • Jenny and Tony have gone to Beixin (her hometown).  Jenny is changing her paperwork so that she can become a resident of Wuxi.  The stupid system that tied Chinese to their village remains in place.
  • I won't be doing much with my so-called time of freedom.
  • I feel ennui today.  I don't know if I will make a long entry.
  • Annoying thing:  I can't get the RSS Reader on my Ipod Touch without the use of my VPN.  This suddenly started happening last night.
  • I killed six mosquitoes last night.  Also annoying.
  • Tony likes to tell his Mother that I hit him when I didn't.  It was his way of revenging me for making him get dressed.
  • At 1100, I had a private class with a VIP student who came late.  He was a university student studying Interior Design in Singapore.  His lateness was a lethargic one.  He looked like he had nothing to worry about -- the spoiled man-child of rich Chinese parents.  We get a lot of them at our school.
  • So much for the feeling of ennui.  Jenny and Tony took the Taxi to the Bus Station.  I accompanied them.  Our driver went a different way to the station.  Instead of taking a freeway to the bus station, the driver took a "back" way.  We passed a large area full of rubble, half-demolished buildings and piles of trash.  It was shocking to me that this area could be so close to the center of the city and so near its brand spanking new train station.  Wuxi is being done over in a bigger way that I can imagine.
  • There is this fellow.  He's a local.  He is kind of a hustler, a guy on the make.  He always tries to talk to me on the bus.  He tells me he is looking for foreigners to go hiking with.  I tell him I never have the time and that I don't know any foreigners who have the time either.  Anyway, I saw this guy at my school.  I ran into him in the hallway after finishing a class.  He gave me his business card.  On it is a picture of him with two big blonde foreign women.  He tells me that if I ever need a foreign woman, I can talk to him....
  • I work 1000-1800.  I arrive at school at 900.  I should mention that I almost always arrive an hour early for my shift.  If I arrived ten minutes before the start of my shift, I would feel physically ashamed of myself.
  • Today's my anniversary!  Six years, Jenny and I have been married.  Oh!  How time flies!
  • Remember the anniversary song from the Flintstones?  If you do, you can sing along with me:  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anniversary!  There's nothing quite as wonderful as having an anniversary!  Especially on a day you have to work!  Oh!  So!  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anniversary!  Today's my anni-veeeeeeeeeeeeer-si-ryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! 
  • Last night, the wife and son were unexpectedly home.  My wife didn't stay in Beixin like she had planned.
  • On the way to work, I saw the police trying to shoo away a beggar who had plopped himself down near the entrance to an open air market.  I also saw a old man being put into a police van.  What was strange about the second sight was that the man seemed so dignified and thus harmless.
  • An annoying sort of student comes to the school on the weekend:  the full-time student whose parents have been making them English classes on their time off.  They don't want to be there, and will play with their I-phones through the entire class.  I just can't be bothered to take their phones away.  As I say, I go through the motions at work these days.
  • I wonder how the U.S. election will turn out.  I suppose it will be close.  I am feeling optimistic about a Romney win.  I just wish he could be more of a conservative and a leader, instead of a panderer in the worst tradition of the Democratic Party.
  • A student told me he was tired because he was studying about HS codes.  These codes are needed to classify products for export.  The classifications are important for tariff reasons.  The codes tell you a lot about the product like what materials are used in its manufacture.  My first reaction to this was to say how unnecessary and bureaucratic it all seemed.  Thus, I told the student I was a free-trader.  I asked the student what was done in the case of products that defy classification.  He said experts were used to make pronouncements on these issues.  The student's job was to consult companies who misclassified their products and thus became subject to fines.
  • I work 1000-1800.
  • I didn't completely hold back today.
  • Saturday evening, was train night with Tony.  I was proud of one of my configurations.  I had a stretch of track riding atop another.  Tony enjoyed this, and I had to make similar configuration on Sunday evening.
  • I listen to EWTN podcasts.  I try to make myself do this every Sunday.  I was listening to the Coming Home show featuring interviews with converts to Catholicism.  There was something said in the interview that will stick with me for a long time and may contribute to my current vice, which has been to be very aloof at work -- hiding in my office and not getting out unless duty absolutely demands its.  The convert talked of the loneliness that his conversion brought on him.  He said he had to find new friends.  This, I have to do.  Probably via the Internet.  There is no one whom I cross paths with now that I can deal with.
  • I feel disdain for everyone I see today.  Here it goes:
  • I get annoyed at students and their bloody imprecise sentences.  I tell them:  It isn't the bloody cultural revolution anymore.  You don't have to make vague and meaningless sentences!
  • I am ashamed to admit I am an English teacher sometimes.  The students don't seem to learn anything, and far too many of the teachers I encounter are, for lack of a better word or for fear of using a dirty word, human refuse.  Far too many English teachers are alcoholics, letches, perverts, loafers  and here in China for nefarious reasons.  Teaching for them is just a way to pass the time -- they couldn't care less if the students learn anything.
  • I also have to admit that I have lowered myself to their level.  I deal with it by becoming cynical and aloof.
  • Pens are good for whacking students on the side of the head.  One of those properly delivered in my English Conrer shut up two little miscreants real good.
  • At 430 pm, I just want to go home and hug my wife & son.
  • Taking the bus home, I saw a group of male adolescents crowded together.  They caught my eye because they were all trying to sneak glances at me.  I decided that I would try to take a photo of them doing this with my Ipod Touch Camera.  They stopped doing this but decided to sit on each other's laps when two seats became available.  I took a photo of that.
  • Tournament Eight.  Team I won the League 1 Championship by defeating Team K 10-8 in the final.  Team I has a record of 6-0.  In League 2, Team W defeated Team X 2-1 in the final.  The championships were the first for both teams.
  • The tournament will now enter the championship qualifying phase.   The sixteen second and third place finishers from the eight four-team groups will compete for four spots in the 12 team Championship tournament.  The four eventual qualifiers will join the eight group winners already in the tournament.
  • I phone my Mom in the evening.  It is minus seven degrees centigrade in Brandon, Manitoba.  I find myself missing the cold.  Having lived in British Columbia and then China, I haven't experienced a good crisp Canadian cold for the longest time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Here Is Where You Can Get Immediate AKIC Updates!

You can keep up with the AKIC universe by visiting these sites.

Wuxi China Expatdom: I left my imagination roam free here.

Tony Kaulins in China blogspot:  I am always publishing photos of Tony here.

Tony Kaulins in China Wordpress:  ditto.  But I try to put different photos of my son in each blog.

Andis Kaulins in China Wordpress:  I think this is a better platform for publishing the photos I take during the week.  It  is updated all the time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 15-21 2012 Blog Entry

It was just another week.

Gratitude  Thank God, I have Tony and Jenny.  It is nice to wake them up in the morning with kisses.
Acknowledgement I need to do things that are tactile.  I was such a moron, one time in my twenties,  to sneer at carpentry as a career -- such a moron that I can't try to minimize the fact that I did so.  I was so stupid.!
Request  Don't vote for Obama.  He doesn't deserve to be re-elected.  His followers need their comeuppance.  (I admit that Romney is no great shakes.  But he is a decent man who deserves all the success he had achieved in his life.  And I like Romney's gosh-golly-gee-ness.  It beats the progressive-liberal moral preening that Obama has a talent for doing so well.)

Canada ain't cool
Who cares who are Prime Minister is?  Not many outside of Canada.  Which is a good thing.  Canada has a good thing going without the burden of responsibility that the Americans have.  Our best Prime Ministers have been those that haven't been cool.  Our coolest Prime Minister, Trudeau, was a disaster.

On Wednesday, I finished reading Dostoevsky's The Devils (or The Possessed).  It was great, f**ing great!  One got so angry at the killing of the character Shatov.

On Thursday, I hadn't quite decided what I was going to read next.  Perhaps, I should read Shakespeare's Henry V, I thought.

I later think that I will read The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.  But not till I had read a Shakespeare Play.

Sunday evening, I started reading a book about political economy by Canadian Stephen Leacock.  I knew he was a humorist but I had no idea he was a professor of political economy.

Having finished Leacocks's The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, I then started reading one of his books of humor -- Nonsense Novels --and I think I have found my hero -- a Canadian with an interest in politics and economics who loves to write completely absurd works of fiction.  Now, I can justify my  Wuxi China Expatdom Blog.

Links of the week
An editorial by Camille Paglia -- one of my favorite female writers.
Romney v. Obama Was a Nauseating Draw, and Both Deserve to Lose  Romney's biggest plus is that he isn't Obama.  You can only justify some of the things Romney said in the debate however by saying he was appealing to the middle.
John Derbyshire says he can't be bothered to vote  I knew he wouldn't be impressed by the debate, but he didn't think he would give up.

I have discovered another one:  The History of Byzantium

The Wuxi Corrupt Officials
The Corrupts are 5-0.  They didn't deserve to win getting the 11th most points out of 12 teams, but the Corrupts were fortunate enough to be matched up with the team that got the 12th most points.

I worry the Corrupts will have a season like last season's Green Bay Packers.  The 15-1 Packers didn't get to the Super Bowl.

  • My day off.
  • I proofread my October 7-14 entry forty times.  I couldn't stop  finding errors.  But, I had to give up and get on with my life.
  • I got a video 93% uploaded before it stopped, and I haven't been to finish the upload even with the VPN working.
  • Tournament Eight:  Team G, despite losing its final game of the group stage, won group two for the third time.  Team G is the only team to have gone through a tournament without losing a game.  It did this feat in Tournament Two when it had a record of ten wins, no losses, and one tie, good for a group title, a league championship, and a tournament championship.
  • Good timing continues...  (from Sunday) The kindergarten van arrives just as Tony & I arrive at the meeting point.  The bus arrives just as Jenny & I arrive at the bus stop.
  • So much rubble do I see as I take the bus downtown!  At least it isn't the result of the war.
  • Pain in my right hip, right ankle and right knee.  It subsides as time, but there are times I can't stand up.  Is this Arthritis?
  • What do I like about Catholicism?  It takes a step back from the day and the age.  It adopts a pose that suits my temperament and my life-time experience as a loner.
  • The effect of the Internet on my life -- something I should write about.  Loner that I am and have been, I have to say that the Internet has ameliorated and exacerbated my solitude.  The Internet gives me a platform to talk to the world.  The Internet has allowed me to contact people who I wouldn't never have contacted before the Internet came into existence.  It has also stopped me from having any close relationships with anyone because it has made easier for me not to.  I have a blog so I don't need anyone to confide in.  I have a blog so I don't need to conspire.
  • The 93% video was eventually uploaded.  You can watch it here.

Island Disputes
Say what you might about all those island controversies involving Japan, but people of good will,  of common human decency, with common sense, and of normal sexual habits must surely all agree that Hans Island belongs to Canada.

  • My day off.
  • I go to work in the evening.  Damn!  I agreed to do it!  Still!
  • Steamed Buns for breakfast.  Too bad, I didn't take a photo!
  • While riding the bus, I saw a taxi driver and another car driver having an argument on Zhongshan Road near the entrance to Chongan Market.  The taxi driver was gesticulating  wildly and making rude gestures to the other driver who had returned to his car and was putting on his seat belt.  I assume that they had had a collision.  As the bus, I was in, then pulled away, I saw the driver of the car get out of his car and rush toward the taxi driver.  Whether they came to blows, I couldn't tell as the bus pulled out of the view of the fight.
  • Japan and China likely to go to war.  A perky girl of university student age made the sentence using the phrase "to be likely," and then told me she hoped it would happen.   The Japanese were bad she said....  I thought young women were pacifists!  Ah!  The power of nationalism.
  • Female Bus Driver stops bus on side of road and dashes across the road to get to a service station's bathroom.  That was a first for me to see such a thing.  Now, to think of it, I wonder why I haven't seen it happen more often.
The Second Presidential Debate
  • I listened to the debate feed on my Ipod.  I'd score it a draw.  Romney didn't blow it.  Obama seemed stilted at times.
  • A lot of hot air came from both candidates who at times didn't answer the  question from an audience member.  This was to be expected I suppose.  Some of the questions were silly anyway.  One person basically ask the candidates to give him a job.
  • A lot of time was spent by the debaters saying what the other said wasn't true.
  • Obama's best moment was when he said his investment portfolio was smaller than Romney's.
  • Romney's best moment was his referral to the Reagan recovery.

  • I work 1300 to 2100.
  • Tony is already a better printer than his father.  He also speaks better Chinese.
  • English Corner Topic:  Heaven.
  • My mobile phone message tone is the opening keystrokes of Glen Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. The ring tone is Hong Kong Garden by Soiuxsee and the Banshees.  I put a lot of thought into these things even though the only person who calls me on my mobile is my wife.
  • I work 1000 to 2100.
  • Taking the bus down this one stretch of road, I count forty guys in black uniforms watching traffic.  What they were trying to do to get it move along quickly I couldn't tell.  A lot of them looked to be just standing around.
  • A student I had in a morning class was clearly pregnant.  When she told me she was due at the end of November, I had to ask if she was having twins because her tummy was so big that she looked like she was about to burst.  She told me she was.  I asked if she knew the sex of the babies.  She said she was going to have a boy and a girl.  She told me the chances of that are four in a hundred.  
  • Wow!  I said.
  • Last night, a student said something about the US election.  She even mentioned polling reports she had heard about.  The first student to ever be so informed.  Usually, the students know nothing about American politics.
  • Students with an opinion on the U.S. election tell me they want Obama to win.  They can't tell me why though.
  • What is an enzyme?  The question came up because I had students, from a company called Gemeco, who I lo work with such things.  I looked up enzymes on the Internet and I became only a little more informed. 
  • With a purpose or for a purpose?  Networking is an activity done with a commercial purpose.  Networking is an activity done for a commercial purpose.  A student asked me which sentence was better. I said they were both okay.  But then I thought of the many instances when with and for couldn't be substitutes, I was stumped as to why it could be so in my Networking example.

  • I work 1100 to 2100.
  • No School for Tony today.  The pipes at his school are being repaired.  This explains why my wife was tiger-mothering him last evening.  She had him doing his homework till 1130 pm!
  • I made my first ever mobile tweet from work.  Very historical!  Niel-who-was-it stepped on what?  The Moon?!?
  • A student told me that he had gone to see a speech at his child's primary school.    Two thousand children and adults attended this speech that was held at school's sports field.  The speaker was quite famous, I was lead to understand.  The speaker told the students that they should love their country, respect their teachers,  be thankful to their parents, and love themselves.  The leader was approved by the government and was quite nationalistic.  Despite China's development, other countries like Japan and the Philippines were cheating them, he said.
  • The student was quite taken with speaker's performance.  It brought the crowd to tears, it was loud and powerful,  and  lasted 2.5 hours.....  Sounded like Commie Agitprop to me.
  • I work 1000-1800.
  • No breakfast at McDonald's this morning.  I had coffee from  the 85 Degrees Bakery instead.
  • I wanted to take a photo, but couldn't, of these workers who were cutting and planting roadside shrubbery.  If I go through the road tomorrow, I would see those workers still hard at it.  They must work seven days a week.
  • I got annoyed at my students during a Show & Tell I was teaching.   I had six of them, all of whom were middle-school aged.  They were, to be fair, all  tired and inattentive after a long week at school.  Two of them had their heads done.  Another pair was playing with their I-phones (one girl had an I-phone and and I-pad!).  I wasn't in a mood to get angry but I did chide them.  I rung them out like I had done many times before when I had lost my patience, but this time, I felt an eerie sense of calm when I did so -- there I was going through the motions of being annoyed, hoping the clock would run our faster.
  • Who is your hero?  I asked my Friday Evening English Corner.  One student said Chairman Mao, and I could have sworn I heard guffaws from the other students.
  • I work 1000-1800.  So, no church.
  • Saturday Evening:  The Group Stage of Tournament Eight was complete.  The group winners were Teams A, G, I, O,T, X, Z, and ZZ.  Teams G & Z meet in the Tournament 2 championship game.  Teams D, H, L, P, V, AA, and XX finished in last place in their groups and thus were eliminated from further playoff competition.  Team D had won its league championship in Tournaments 5 & 6.  Team P lost the Tournament 7 championship game.
  • The last game of the group stage was won by Team T.  It came down to a coin toss to decide if team T would win its fifth group title in six tournaments.  The toss was a head, and Team T thus won the group after having lost its opening game.
  • Thought:  What is the point of craving sensation?  Its blissfulness is temporary.  You can't pass it on.  If you try, you either annoy or pass on craving and emptiness.  It's a mug's game.
  • For supper, I had fried dumplings and bite-sized pork cutlets.  I didn't pursue it.  It found me which was better.
  • Tony went to school today.  By the time I got home, he had finished his homework and was quite excited, jumping up and down like he had won a lottery.  He was so proud of himself that he showed me his notebook in which he had finished the day's printing practice.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 8 to October 14 Blog Entry

Gratitude  Thank God my wife criticizes me.  Lord knows, I deserve it sometimes.
Acknowledgement  Far too often, for me, teaching is running out the clock
Request  I wish to be able to enjoy every second of my life instead of feeling like time is usually something that I have to endure and to rush through in order to get to a situation that I somehow hope will be better.

Canada Ain't Cool  Typical Canadians don't dress coolly.  They mostly wear baseball caps and jeans.  But, God love 'em, they are people of substance who don't put up with b.s.!    Or so I would like to think.

Links of the Week

The Wuxi Corrupt Officials
The official NFL Fantasy Football Team of True Blue Wuxi Expats is now 4-0!

Quote of the Week 
From David Warren:  Should the Scots be granted  independence? Perhaps they should. But if someone can think of a better way to punish them, let us know.

I am reading Dostoevsky's The Devils (Or The Possessed) on my Ipod.  I am enjoying the novel but I am having a hard time keeping the characters straight because their names are so long and some of them have two names.

Tournament Eight
I will blog about some of the results in the daily journal entries below.  I am working through the first round group stage in which eight groups, of four teams, play a single round robin.

  • Tony goes back to school.  His holiday is over.
  • I am able to upload one video to YouTube, but not the other.  Thanks to the Great Firewall, I have to spend a lot of time uploading.  Frequently, the uploads die or they take too long.
  • I get off a bus.  I see a girl, who was looking at me, use her elbow to nudge another girl.  "Look there is a foreigner!" she seemed to be saying.   Or was she telling her friend that there was the strange looking person they had seen in the commercial?
  • On a side-street near the Nanchang Market, there is a restaurant I always go to to have their beef fried rice.  I should have taken photos and video!!
  • I went to Toy-R-Us to see if I could find a "plane-toy" for Tony, but it was closed, permanently. I have no idea if it is going to relocate somewhere else in Wuxi.  The Ba Bai Ban location didn't work for them.  Which was too bad because it worked for me.
  • Tony was in a fighting mood last night.  I have taken a video depicting this desire -- SFMLIWC #30.
  • All of the K family overslept and so Tony was late for school.  He missed the pick-up van, so his Mom took him to school via e-bike.
  • I read that Romney's debate performance made no difference to his poll standings and then I read that it did.  So who knows what is actually going on in the election.  Most political coverage is ephemeral and gaseous.
  • In a salon class about bucket lists, a student said that he would like to fight the Japanese before he died.
  • Today, I got up in time to get Tony on the van that would take him to kindergarten.  Still, I felt very tired.  Last month, I was awake at six a.m. easily.  Since the holiday, I have gotten lazy.
  • In tournament eight, Team F and Team G had a classic game in their Group 2 match-up   Team G won a back and forth game 7-6 to take first place in the group.  Team G is well-placed to win its third Group 2 title.
  • Selfish me:  My wife had set up some cups with hot water and tea bags.  I made myself a cup a tea but didn't make my wife's.  She was justifiably displeased with me.
  • We have this trainer who has missed two days of classes.  He tells us he is stuck in some other Chinese province because the highway traffic there isn't moving.  Students have told me stories about traffic being bad.  One student told me that on National Day, it took her seven hours to get to Nantong from Wuxi -- it is normally a two hour trip.
  • The students told me that the government decided to waive toll fees during the National Week Holiday.  The result -- massive traffic jams -- was predictable.  Of course, it probably would have been politically impossible to raise toll fees which would have been the economically right thing to do.  Politics and Economics don't mix.  In America, gas prices are going through the roof and the politicians are looking for scapegoats.  Of course, the politicians are the ones who are responsible, but that won't stop them from blaming speculators.
  • Absent teacher means I have to go to this company CMV.  There will be about 20 students they tell me.  I will try to get them to talk about their bodies.
  • Whenever I get on a bus, I try to get a seat as far towards the back as possible.  I do so because I figure there is less chance of my having to yield my seat to seniors or women with babies.
  • I have so many podcasts and e-books to read that my head is spinning.  Let's see.  There are 40 podcasts I am keen to listen to, and I have downloaded 150 e-books from Project Gutenberg.
  • Later.  CMV is located in some part of Wuxi I had never been to before.   There were 20 students in the class:  19 men and one woman.  The topic of the class:  the Body.  None of the students looked fat in the Western sense so I had to tell those who thought they were fat, that they weren't.  None of the students said anything against Japan, which was a change.
  • I had a hard time explaining to the students why it was that their regular teacher was absent.  I told them that he was stuck in Hunan province because of traffic, but I found it hard to believe.
  • Oh why is it that I am not so lucky as to get food-poisoning, to break my arm, to break my collar-bone, to be stuck in an elevator or to get stuck in traffic jams like other people?  I never miss work.
  • I read about 200 Ipod-sized pages of my Dostoevsky novel today.
  • There is confident talk coming from conservative circles that Romney can win the election.  God!  I hope they are right.
  • On my Ipod Touch, I was able to watch a half-hour recap of the 1970 NFC Championship Game between the Cowboys and 49ers..  Magnificent!!
  • I have listened to the China History Podcast Episodes #98, #99, #100 on the bus.  Congrats to Laslzo on making it to one hundred episodes   I can say his podcasts have accompanied me on many a bus ride in Wuxi as well as on many walks in the Chinese countryside.  Like me, Laslzo has his Internet project.  Unlike me, Laslzo has developed quite the following.  I am forced mostly to talk about me because I don't have the resources and the money to do anything with a broader interest.  Not that that is a bad thing, but I have to do a much better job.
  • Sad:  I was eating breakfast at McDonald's and listening to my Ipod.  This woman sat right beside me and started to speak to me.  I had to turn off the Ipod which is not a quick operation.  When I was finally able to, the woman, in broken English mixed with Chinese, asked me the following question:  What do you want from me?  I realized immediately that she had spoken incorrectly.  I then saw that she was talking to herself and having a very animated discussion.  She was a candidate for People's Hospital #7 which is the local Mental Hospital.  I didn't think that at the time -- my first reaction was to feel pity.  She looked like a lonely thing who had had no one to talk too and went mad as a result.  I didn't know how to talk to her but I said bye to her when I left.
  • My son Tony knows the Chinese for mirror.  Last night, I was helping him in the bathroom.  He had finished taking a bath, was wrapped in a towel and was standing on a stool, when he pointed at the bathroom mirror and said the Chinese, which my wife told me was, for mirror.  Knowing this only added to the mystery because he said mirror in an imploring manner.  I had to ask my wife why it was that he wanted the mirror.  She didn't know either until she figured out that Tony wanted to stand in front of the mirror and look at himself.  The vain little bugger!  And I am jealous of his Chinese ability.
  • The missing teacher has returned.  I don't want to hear him spin his tale!  I will stay in my office and hide behind my desk.
  • A student had something nice to say about the Japanese.  She said when she went to Tokyo, she was very impressed with their manners.  But then she told me that their school children are taught that China is for the Japanese to take.
  • This same student wasn't very impressed with Paris.  Paris, she said, was a very dirty city -- men and women were throwing their cigarette butts everywhere.
  • In Tournament Eight, Defending Champion Team Y lost their second group round-robin game 3-0.  Having tied their first game, Team Y won't repeat as group champions and could very likely finish in last place in their group and thus be eliminated from any playoff competition.
  • No sign of the woman who I saw at McDonald's the day before.  
  • I took the Implicit Association test.  This is the conclusion it gave me:  Your data suggest a slight implicit preference for famous White people compared to famous Black people.
  • I saw a female co-worker at the bus stop.  She was in a hurry to get the next bus because she had to be at work at 9:00.  It was 8:45.  I didn't have to be at work till 11:00.  Why she asked me was I going to work so early.  I told her that I had sent Tony off to school and so I figured that it was better to head to work than to head back home.  But I think about this now and it does seem I am anal that I get to work so early.
  • I will be eagerly awaiting reportage of the Ryan -- Biden debate.
  • Something I should have said at my Father's funeral:  He was a Leafs fan; I was a Habs fan.  
  • I then took a Big Five Personality Test and got the following results:
Extraversion |||| 22% (11 percentile)
Conscientiousness|||||||||| 52% (33 percentile)
Neuroticism ||||||| 35% (25 percentile)
Agreeableness ||||||||||| 57% (19 percentile)
Openness |||||||||||||||| 82% (59 percentile)

  • I believe that the results mean  I am very introverted, not so conscientious, slightly neurotic, not very agreeable and yet fairly open.  A mass of contradictions.  Or have I interpreted these results incorrectly?
  • The room quietens down when I walk in.  He he!
  • Tony & Jenny are going to Beixin, Jenny's hometown, for the weekend.  For me, it means I will be alone when I go home Saturday night.  The one liberty I will allow myself, if I feel up to it, is to have a sandwich at Subway.
  • After Subway, and after having taken the bus home, I will spend time on the computer.  There is a video that I will try to upload to Youtube, VPN permitting.  I shot another commercial where I am shown walking into an office and being received by a receptionist.
  • Tony argues with his mother saying that the jacket, she wants him to wear, is not needed because it isn't cold not.  He said this in Chinese and I could make it out.  This indicated both the K Boys are making progress in their language acquisition.
  • Should I watch a replay of the Vice-Presidential debate?  From what I have read,  Biden was on the offensive.  The right says he was offensive in doing so and that he came across as a preening jerk, never letting his opponent finish a sentence.  The Left said Biden being on the offensive revived Obama's campaign -- a much-needed boost.
  • St. Louis defeats the Washington Nationals 9-7 in the fifth and deciding game of their Major League Baseball playoff series.  The Cardinals scored four runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to win the game.  A heart-breaking loss for the Nationals who had the best record in the National League.  The Nationals showed their Montreal Expo pedigree in the loss.
  • I don't recommend the double fish burger from McDonald's.
  • Saturday after work, I wandered around the downtown looking for a toy store so I could buy a "plane toy" for Tony.  I found a store, across Zhongshan Road from Chongnan Market on the sixth floor of a department store, that sold planes made by the famous toy-car maker Matchbox.
  • Before finding the toy plane, I had bought a sandwich at Subway.  I didn't think to ask to have a drink with cookie when I made my order.  I realized this as they handed me the invoice  which I had to take to a cashier -- why I couldn't pay the clerk was strange, but this is what they do in China.  I couldn't be bothered to correct my oversight.  The clerks should have been trained to ask if I wanted a drink with my sandwich.  They instead asked me if that was everything -- I had thought they were asking me if that was all the toppings I wanted on my sandwich.
  • I was able to upload Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #29 to YouTube.  In SFMLIWC #29, I act in a commercial.
  • I also edited SFMLIWC #30 -- a fight video with Tony.
  • Sunday Morning, I had good timing when taking the bus to work.  The first bus came to my stop at the same time I did.  The second bus came to the stop just as I de-boarded the first bus.  I waited all of two seconds.  If it could be that way always!
  • I send a tweet from a restaurant.  It was the first time for me to send one while not at home.
  • In Tournament Eight, Teams "A" and "ZZ" have won their groups thus earning themselves spots in the League and Tournament Championships.
  • My wife Jenny tells me that her bus to Wuxi was stuck in a traffic jam for one hour.  Too many cars, not enough roads?
  • I put Tony's plane toy, which was in a red bag,  in the bedroom.  I then phoned him and told him to go into the bedroom and look for a red bag which contained the plane toy.  Jenny tells me he was able to find the toy without her help.  She, in fact, had no idea where it was.  Tony passes a comprehension test!

Scenes from My Life in China #29

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Videos You Must Watch

Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #27:  Andis & Tony walk along a canal near Casa Kaulins.

Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #28:  Video Highlights of the K Family Holiday week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 1 to October 7 Blog Entry

This week:
  • I had four days of holiday.  Not enough!
  • The students couldn't stop talking about Japan and the Japanese.
  • I have a VPN on my Ipod Touch now, so I can be a Tweety Bird.  This Tweety Bird followed the Obama Romney Debate.  The result was a sunnier disposition for me.  I was happy to hear of the Big O's misfortune.

Thank God that I have a child!   
Thanks to Paul Rudkin for setting up a VPN on my Ipod Touch.

I have a long list of things that I have to acknowledge.  I should perhaps change the title of this section to Acknowledgements.   Anyway,  this week's acknowledgement:   I am very out of step with other Wuxi Expats.  The Expat who said I was not worth talking to about Wuxi was right. 

I hope Tony outlives me and never goes missing on me ever again.  

The Wuxi Corrupt Officials
Monday:  Your  2-0 Corrupts, the official NFL Fantasy Team of Wuxi Expats, are trailing in their third match-up 107-102.  The Corrupts' opponent The Black and Yellow Attack have used all their players, and so have no chance to get more points.  The Corrupts have to hope for a good performance by the Chicago Bears in a Monday Night game against the Dallas Cowboys to pull out the victory.

Tuesday:  Corrupts win!  Corrupts win!   129-107 thanks to the Chicago Bears Defense!  Wuxi's Corrupts are now 3-0!

Canada Ain't Cool
It is a country of substance.  For example, it can boast of these three important writers:  Mordecai Richler, Marshal McLuhan and David Warren.

Links of the Week
What sort of people are members of the Christopher Hitchens Fan Club?  Christopher's brother Peter ponders this question.

Tournament Eight
Team A defeated Team B 5-0 in a Group One matchup.  
Team A has a 2-0-0 record and six points.  They won't be in last place and thus will be some extra games.
Team B has a record of 1-1-0 and three points.  Their final round robin game could be an elimination game.

Shanghai Expats
Apparently, many Expats living in Shanghai think Wuxi is not a modern enough place for them to live.  What a bunch of cavemen!

Is Mitt Romney worse than Stalin, Mao or Hitler?
Of course not.  So, he is much, much better than Obama.

Tony and I went train spotting on Monday (You will be able to see video and photos of this).  To watch the high speed Chinese trains, we stood on a bridge deck over which the high speed track, resting high atop fifty feet tall columns, ran.

A foreigner with his child standing on a bridge deck would be quite a curious sight  for passersby  whether they be drivers, cyclists, passengers or pedestrians.  One pair of gentleman who walked past, stared hard at us -- so much so that Tony got very shy and stood behind me.  The gentlemen meant no harm.  

I wouldn't have given the pair another thought but then I saw them again.  Tony and I had ridden the K family E-bike to our train observation spot.  When we rode back , we past the two men sitting on grass on the side of the road.  They waved at us.  I waved back.  Usually I ignore this sort of thing.

What struck me as strange, being a Westerner, was the sight of the two men resting on the grass.  No one from Canada would do such a thing.  They would have to have a seat on which to sit.  

I then began to wonder where the two men were going and where they had come from.  That is, what was their purpose?  Near our train observation spot, there were not too many stores or residences.  There was only the road on the bridge which took people from Jiangyin to Wuxi.  Were these gentlemen just going for a stroll?  Or were they too poor to afford to have bikes?  Were they transients?  So many questions.

  • We had guests from Shanghai: Paul and his wife, from Wuxi, Lily.
  • I got VPN capability on my Ipod.
  • We went to a nearby Korean BBQ restaurant.  I drank beer and Soju (a Korean form of Bai Joe) -- I quite enjoyed it.

  • I can now tweet, make Facebook entries, watch YouTube videos and read my blogs on my Ipod thanks to the VPN.  My first urge has been to tweet useless information on Facebook and Twitter.  Alas, I don't have much to say, so I won't be doing this for long.
  • Tony and I go to an canal side embankment.  The barges come so close, we can say Ni Hao! to the bargemen and barge-women.  Of course, there is plenty of video and photos of this.
  • The K family went to Nanchang Jie and to the Nanchang Market.  Dad got on a new wristband for his Swiss Army watch (which he had inherited from his father).  
  • Nanchang Market was crowded and for whatever reason there were a few people fascinated enough with Tony to want to take his photo.  I haven't seen this phenomenon in a while.
  • Some young men walked by me, and one of them muttered "fuck!"  It being crowded, I was paying more attention to Tony and so by the time I looked to see who might have said the f-word, the person had melted into the crowd.  I wondered if he  said it because I just happened to be a foreigner or because, as I first thought, they had seen me muttering "fuck!" in public.  I don't know why but I worried more that the f-word was said because of some previous sin of mine.  In this day and age, there is something joyous about being an innocent victim of racism.
  • Thanks to having a VPN on my Ipod, I was able to see reaction on Twitter to the presidential debate.  I knew Romney had won when I read Bill Maher's mealy-mouthed tweet that said that Obama had facts on his side, but lost on style.
  • My wife wasn't impressed with Nanchang Jie.  It doesn't look like much in the daytime when one notices all the rubble behind the facade.  There is a lot of that in Wuxi: rubble behind a facade.
  • Always on my mind was that I had to keep Tony in my sight.
  • On Tony's mind:  get an ultraman doll.
  • Back to work.  What fresh horrors awaited me?  
  • Well.  There weren't many people at school.
  • I forgot to bring my mobile phone with me.  One of the bad aspects of having an Ipod Touch.  Your forget about your mobile.
  • "How were your holidays?" I asked.  Most students answered that it was boring.
  • What did the other trainers do on their holidays?  I didn't bother asking.
  • I had a student tell me that war with Japan would be desirable because life in China is so boring.  
  • Be careful what you ask for! I told her.

  • Stat of the day: 32 years of the one-child policy: 400,000,000 abortions.
  • The topic of today's English Corner:  Freaks.  Stupid topic.  All I can say in my defense is that I choose it.  One of the students said the Japanese were freaks.  "Whatever!" I said.  That serves me right for being flippant about the island affair:  there have been a few times where I have made jokes along the lines of "I know!  I know!  You somehow want to make a sentence talking about the Japanese!"

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Parent's Worst Nightmare

  • Earlier in the day, Dad gave Tony 3 rmb and told him to buy a bottle of ice tea at the local small shop.  It was with great pride that Dad saw Tony go to the shelves, find a bottle of ice tea, and then go to the cashier to make his payment.
  • Tony and Dad then went on an outing around the area where They looked at diggers, front-end loaders, boats and high-speed trains.
  • When They arrived home, Tony darted up the stairs and laughed at his Dad who was not able to keep up.  Dad reflected how at five years old, his son could already outrun him.
  • In the evening, Mom instructed Dad to take Tony to the bathroom at the local KFC.  Dad had to make sure Tony washed his hands.  Tony raced to the bathroom and by the time his father arrived, he had washed his hands.  Dad washed his and felt the urge to urinate.  Tony rushed out and Dad assumed that he was heading back to his mother.  When Dad finished his business, he walked out and didn't see Tony with his Mom, and he then saw that Tony wasn't at the playground.  He kept looking and couldn't see Tony anywhere.  With the area around the KFC crowded because it was the National Day Holiday, Tony wasn't going to be easy to find.  Tony's parents began to panic.  Tony's Mother went to the find went to the customer service area to have the P.A. make an announcement.  Dad ran around the shopping area, screaming Tony!  Tony!  Tony!  He  and Mom worried that Tony had been kidnapped.  Dad's life was flashing before his eyes.   Dad was quite a sight:  a foreigner screaming at the top of his lungs, but this was a good thing because the locals did try to help him.  Eventually, someone lead Dad to Tony.  Tony had dashed to this outdoor playground like his mother had first assumed, but he had gone to an area of playground that was in a corner and hidden from his parents who in their panic overlooked it.  Reunited with Tony, Dad was relieved but tears came to his eyes.  Mom came about a minute later, and was crying and angry at Tony because he had ran off without telling anyone.  
  • The episode of missing Tony lasted about ten minutes but its effects on his father would be everlasting.  There are worst things for a parent than earning the approbation of strangers over one's parenting or one's child's behavior:  the possibility of never seeing one's child again is a horrifying prospect indeed.  I now can take anything but that.

Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #24