Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blog Entry for The Week of November 26 to December 2, 2012

Welcome to the weekly blog entry of a lowly English teacher living in Wuxi, China!  The entry has weekly features, as well as a daily chronicle of a Canadian's wasted time in Wuxi, China.

Gratitude  Thank God, I have some critics.  They are a godsend.  One of them is my wife who doesn't criticize me as much as she really rightly should. To be the wife of Jenny and the husband of Tony doesn't involve so many real sacrifices.  For instance, I don't go to the pub anymore.  That isn't much of a sacrifice given my social skills.  Marriage gave me something to do so that I didn't have to go the Pub.  As it is, I still concern myself too much with trying to be well-read and a blogger.

Acknowledgment  So much to acknowledge.  So much to confess.  What do I feel comfortable telling my few-and-far-between readers?  I confess that all the vices affect me in some way.  Now to be more specific, I will say that when I was growing up, I was a very greedy and self-centered child.  I have reigned in some of the greediness as I have grown, but alas I haven't replaced it with a proper generosity of spirit.  And one more thing!  In person, you will find that I am not very likable.  Contact with others makes me uncomfortable, and I leave people with the impression that I want to get away from them.  And still another thing!  Much as I hate certain aspects of my job, it is rather a comfortable life I lead.

Request Criticize me!  Criticize me!  Criticize me!

Wuxi Corrupt Officials Fantasy Football

The Corrupts, as they are affectionately known, are the only game in Wuxi town.  If you aren't following the Corrupts, you are probably watching tiddly winks, European football, or some other effeminate activity.

This week, the Corrupts with a narrow 86-84 victory improved their record to 7-4, and took sole custody of first place, by half-a-game, in their division.

My Current Reading

  • Pensees by Blaise Pascal

  • PSmith in the City by PG Wodehouse

  • Don Colacho's Aphorisms (Complete)

  • Economic Sophisms by Frederic Bastiat

  • Spiritual Provocations by Soren Kierkegaard

  • Letters to the Romans (KJ version)

Quotes that AKIC Likes

1) Don Colacho:  #2554 The continuous discourse tends to conceal the breaks within being.  The fragment is the expression of honest thought. (*I like to think of this quote as justifying my blogging style.  Of course, this aphorism is saying much more than that and its meaning is allusive, and yet I feel that it does express a profound observation about one's thinking.*)

2)From an article in Taki's magazine:  My father's generation learned Latin for free. Today it costs tens of thousands of dollars to teach your kid to talk like a babysitter. (*I have heard too many English teachers talk like babysitters to the students.  And it was just my luck that when I started going to the school in early 1970's, Latin was dropped from the curriculum.)

Canada Ain't Cool

AKIC does get homesick for Canada even though he criticizes the country a lot.  

The headline of his weekly feature, Canada Ain't Cool, is meant to be a compliment.  From AKIC's point of view, to be cool is not a good thing.  Cool, believes AKIC, is the triumph of style over substance, and so AKIC believes that any attempt on the part of Canada to be cool is fruitless and stupid.  Canada's charm, supposes AKIC, is that it isn't cool and is a land of substance.

Anyway, AKIC likes to believe that.

Alas, AKIC wonders if maybe Canada is cool or rather keeping up with the times -- a sin in the AKIC playbook.  There is the fact that David Warren is Canadian to serve as a counter weight to Canada's supposed coolness.  But then AKIC reads that England is hiring a Canadian central banker to head the Bank of England...

Here is a tribute to Canada in my WCE Blog.

Monday (the 26th)

  • I didn't work.  I spent most of the day on the computer.  

  • I listened to the first half of the Grey Cup game.  The Argos had a big lead at half-time, and there was no way the Stampeders were going to come back. (and they didn't)

  • I uploaded Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #32 to Youtube because I finally had a working VPN!  

  • I continued with my Don Colacho project.  That is, I was copying his 2988 aphorisms that could be found on the Internet and putting them into an Epub format so I could more easily read them and be able to constantly refer to them on my Ipod Touch.  Each aphorism had to be cut and pasted individually, from my RSS Reader feed of the Colacho Aphorism Blog, to a document file which I could then convert to the Epub format.

  • I found epub editing software on the Internet: Sigil, and I can now have my Colacho Epub with click-able table of contents.

  • The previous week, there had been fallout on the Monday for something that happened with Tony on the weekend.  On Saturday the 17th, Tony had gotten a black eye when he fell in a restaurant, and so he didn't go to school on the 19th.  This week, the fallout was from Tony's pugilistic temper tantrum on Sunday, the 25th, which came as a result of his being told that he had to stop playing with a train simulator program on my laptop.  Monday evening, I had to firmly reject Tony's pleas that I set up the train set for him or let him play with the train simulator.  Mercifully, his pleas only lasted about ten minutes till he found another distraction to temporarily amuse himself with.

  • I wore my shoe with a hole in a heel as I accompanied my wife Jenny on a shopping trip to the nearby Tesco supermarket.

Tuesday (the 27th)

  • I am at aphorism #554 in my Colacho Project.  That is, aphorisms  #1 to #554 are cut-and-pasted into a document file.  Other aphorisms are cut-and-pasted as well:  I first started copying from #2988 down to #2200 or so.  I have also cut-and-pasted vast swaths of the aphorisms in between #2200 and #554.  But, I must have about a week to go of this.  It is getting painful on the fingers and elbow.

  • Later:  I finish an Epub with Aphorisms #1000 to #1.

  • Tony kicks me out of the study so he can do some coloring.

  • I take the E-bike for a round in the area.  I take some photos.  Ten of them can be seen at AKIC Wordpress.  Here is the first one.  Here is the last one.  I will leave it to you to find all the photos in between.  I enjoyed the ride.  It was Sunny.  I liked wandering through the countryside.  However, apartment development was encroaching on the rural and taking away its sordid charm.  I even liked wandering through the old residential areas with their narrow streets and intimate neighborhoods. (I read later that these tight neighborhoods were part a strategy of the Maoists to have the people keep close tabs on each other.)

Wednesday (the 28th)

  • I work 1300-2100.  It is the one workday I can linger at home before I set off.  Ah!  What fresh horrors await me?  Hopefully, I can avoid them...

  • Other than the fact that I overdressed, there wasn't much that was remarkable about this day.

Thursday (the 29th)

  • I work 1000-2100.

  • I took part in the recording of a commercial for the school.  I got to be a bank customer opening an account and exchanging currency.

  • I have compiled 2,000 Don Colacho aphorisms into one document.

  • Students tell me they don't like the food at Ikea.  I tell them I love the food at Ikea.

  • How can you get the benefits of quitting smoking if you haven't started smoking to begin with?  Hmmm? (BTW, I haven't been smoking much lately.  I am as good as a quitter now.)

  • Thought:  What don't they call the Canadian Two Dollar Coin at Doubloon?  It is called a Twoonie because the one dollar coin is called a Loonie.  The "Doub" in Doubloon means Double.  Since the Canadian Two Dollar Coin is Double the value of the Loonie, why not call it the Doubloon?  Doubloon sounds more dignified and graceful.

  • I had breakfast at McDonald's -- a Breakfast Hot Dog.

  • I plan to have beef rice at a restaurant that is a block away from the school.

Friday (the 30th)

  • I work 1100-2100

  • I finish compiling Don Colacho's aphorisms.  I will put them in epub form.  If you are interested you can contact me ( about getting a copy.  Now, I can get back to blogging (or blahging) and studying Chinese.

  • On my ring finger, I have two rings.  My wedding ring and the wedding ring of my late father.  It suddenly struck me, yesterday, that this ring had been on my father's finger for all the memories of I had of him and my life.  The ring was present when I was conceived, when I was born, when I lived in New Brunswick in 1971, in Shilo in 1977, in Brandon in 1982, and when I last saw my father walking about in 2010.  It was also present when I acted most selfishly towards him.....

  • The VPN was working on my school computer.  Nice!  The first time that has happened in months.

  • In my English Corner, all the students told me that they could smell strong odors coming from the nearby chicken restaurant and bakery.  I could smell not even a hint of the two places.  Either, I have become accustomed to the smells and don't notice them, or I am permanently stuffed up.

Saturday (the First of December)

  • It is December.  Oh!  How time flies when you are having a good time.

  • On the way to work, I feel pride that I can read on the Chinese on the 101 Hospital's main sign.

  • I work 1000-1800.

  • First class of the day will be a salon class about bucket lists.  Usually, the students have lame answers.  Later:  and once again, they didn't surprise me.

  • Evening: I am home at Casa K.  I have slapped together Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #33.  I don't know if I will be able to upload it to Youtube, but I have uploaded it to Youku.

  • I found my Bodley Head edition of Ulysses by James Joyce.  I can read it as I follow the Frank Delaney podcast which goes through the text of the novel line-by-line.

Sunday (the 2nd)

  • I don't go to church.  I work 1000-1800.

  • The city is wet from an overnight rain.  Thankfully, I don't need to pull out my umbrella.

  • From the bus I was taking to work, I see a man & a woman having a quarrel.  Or I assume it was a quarrel.  From what I saw, the man was pushing and grabbing the woman.  I took on a mental pose of indignation.  How I would punch the fellow if I had the chance!  I said to myself.  As if, I really would do it.

  • Quiet in the office.  No blah-blah from me.  My one virtue. I prefer to blahg, if you know what I mean.

  • So much sin do I unthinkingly take part of in this world.

  • I repeated a student.  That is, I failed the student which requires him to sit through the class again.  Notice, I didn't say do the class again.  This particular student, if he had been able to pull himself together, could have passed.  And I was even going to pass him till he didn't understand what the word "fail" meant.  Do you know what "fail" means? I asked the student.  He said that he didn't know. I admit that I tell the students that it is okay to say that they don't know something.  However, from now on, I should qualify that -- it is okay to say you don't know as long as you don't say it in an impudent or retarded manner!

  • After work, the Kaulins family goes to Pizza Hut for dinner or, as AKIC likes to say, supper.

  • They take the #602 bus home -- a wonderful thing because the seats are never all taken.

  • At home, Andis gets Youtube on his Ipod Touch. He watches the broadcast footage of the 1970 NFC Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. He is impressed by the half-time show which features singers, like Tony Bennett, just singing without an elaborate stage setup. Bennett does a wonderful rendition of his signature San Francisco song. Bennett and some other singers, including Tony Mathis, then do an impromptu performance in which they have to consult a lyric sheet. Andis thinks it is utterly charming – times have changed for the worst, he laments. Andis also observes that the quarterbacks have a adult swagger to them. The 2012 NFL quarterback carries himself like he is a little boy playing the part of a QB.

  • Then, Andis puts on a DVD of a Marx Brothers movie:  A Night in Casablanca.  Tony finds Harpo, the silent Marx Brother, to be very funny.  There is scene in the movie, where Chico and Harpo engage in an elaborate, but silly, reunion ritual that involves shaking hands, hugging, jumping, waving hands, and finally turning around and bending over so their butts are facing each other, thus allowing them to put their arms between their legs and do a final handshake. Tony after seeing it, encourages Dad to replay the movie scene so he and Dad could imitate it.

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