Gratitude: The World didn't come to an end. I should be thankful, though not so much for my sake as for the sake of my wife & son.
The Week in Brief: To continue to pursue my strategy of stoic withdrawal and individual self-cultivation – that was the question. I supposed it was destined to end in despair. I also counted down the days to Christmas (and my birthday, though not so much).
Acknowledgment: I must surely be a narcissist.
Request Read my Wuxi China Expatdom Blog
I will finish either Pascal's Pensees or the Kierkegaard anthology before I start another book.
Letters to the Corinthians (KJV version)
Ulysses by James Joyce
Boswell's Life of Johnson
I read Hayek's essay The Pretense of Knowledge.
I plan on reading Benita: An African Romance by H Rider Haggard. Benita is the name of my sister.
Links of the week
Some Quotes AKIC liked
Don Colacho: The bourgeoisie is any group of individuals dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with what they are. I am wholly bourgeoisie in this sense. I can't help but read Colacho and say that is just so frigging true!
Kierkergaard: That the goal of the state is to improve its citizens – is obviously nonsense. The state is of the evil rather than of the good, a necessary evil, in a certain sense a useful, expedient evil, but not a good. The state is actually human egotism in great dimensions. Just as we speak of a calculation of infinitesimals, so also the state is a calculation of egotisms, but always in such a way that it egotistically appears to be the most prudent thing to enter into and to be in this higher egotism. But this, after all, is anything but the moral abandoning of egotism. Two things about this. First, doesn't this tell you all to need to know about the likes of Obama & his ilk? Second, Don Colacho, a brilliant linguist, was trying to learn Danish so he could read Kierkergaard in the original Danish.
Don Colacho: Let us not complain of the soil in which we were born, but rather of the plant we are. Worry about what you can control! How true!!
Kierkergaard: A person rarely amounts to anything, either good or evil, who has never lived in solitude. In solitude there is the Absolute, but also the absolute danger. How I wish this was true.
Kierkegaard: Mere gossip mocks real talk, and to express what is yet in thought weakens action by forestalling it. Where mere scope is concerned, talkativeness wins the day, it jabbers on incessantly about everything and nothing. But someone who can really talk, because because he knows how to remain silent, will not talk about a variety of things but about one thing only, and he will know when to talk and when to remain silent. This is how I have been trying to be, but I am still not doing it right.
Monday (the 17th)
I don't work.
Car Squabble. As I leave the apartment, I see a man in his pajamas accompanied by a security guard. I see he has to to move his car. The man whose car he blocked is giving him the what-for.
My wife changes some USD I had in an account to RMB. I had to sign about twenty forms. What was up with that?!?
There are a lot of D-bag drivers in Wuxi. I think that from now on any time a car cuts in front of me when I have the right-of-way, I will give the guy the finger... ( As if I would! I vowed to do that after a car cut in front of me as I was crossing the street.)
The stores play Christmas music. The store staff wear Christmas hats and jackets. The stores sell Christmas decorations. The only problem is that Christmas isn't a holiday in China. For most Chinese, it is just another day.
Tuesday (the 18th)
I don't work.
I told Tony that there was a week till Christmas.
It is cooling down. The weather that is.
My laptop crashed twice.
My windows movie maker program crashed twice as well.
I tried to re-synch all my music and my books on the Ipod. What a pain in the ass.
I went to school to pick up Tony's Christmas present.
On the bus ride downtown, I saw a bus cut off the bus I was riding. My driver was annoyed. I found it interesting. It really is everyone for himself on the roads of Wuxi.
I went to the Xinhua bookstore to buy some Ultraman books for Tony.
Wandering around Xinhua, I saw a man crouched down by a bottom shelf. He had a store book wide open, and he looked to be copying the contents, via pen, into a notebook that he was holding onto as well. It seems a strange thing to be doing in the age of computers, smart phones, and e-books; and yet there is something to be said for writing out thoughts by hand because they will stay in your memory much better. Materially poor and yet there is some of the ancient Chinese scribe about the man that gives him nobility.
I saw that the Moresky360 will not stand out so prominently in the Wuxi skyline anymore.
Someone make a comment on last week's blog entry.
I put the finishing touches on Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #37.
I finished listening to ReJoyce Podcast #67. Currently, Delaney has finished podcast #131. So I am 64 episodes behind. I should catch up easily enough. Delaney does one or two podcasts a week. I listened to seven tonight-- Delaney guided me through almost two pages of Ulysses, chapter two. Stephen Dedalus's thoughts are occupied with the death of his mother and his intellectual interests which include William Blake & Shakespeare.
Though, I haven't added to the page dedicated to my father recently, I still think of him everyday. The image, I have in my mind,of the last time I saw him still flashes in my brain. One time last week, I was walking down the stairs to do an English Corner, and the image of him on his deathbed, his head lying like he was asleep, suddenly came to me. I got choked up and tears came to my eyes. Fortunately, I recovered quickly enough to get on with my class.
As soon as that image comes to my mind, I feel guilt. I didn't do good by Dad at the end of his life. Though I did get married to Jenny and did make him a grandfather – in the end it wasn't enough.
I had taken Tony to a nearby store to buy some water, and Dad passed away in our absence, and we returned to see him on the bed – to Tony he seemed asleep.
Dad was probably the best fan the AKIC blog ever had. He printed out all its photos.
Like the man copying from the book in the bookstore, Dad's printing out my photos seemed so dated, and yet now I am glad he did.
I wonder where Dad is now. I hope he is in a better place. I heard he was attending religious services during his last month.
Wednesday (the 19th)
I work 1300 – 2100.
I spend the morning trying to find out how to optimize my epubs for Ibooks. Right now, they open slowly!
No luck finding anything on the 'net about optimizing epubs for Ibooks.
I put the Stanza App on my Ipod Touch. It is worse than Ibooks at dealing with my self-made epubs. It can't even open them.
I hate that feeling I have when I run out of time trying to solve some problem on the computer. I have to tell myself to concentrate, concentrate, concentrate – the problem is not that important.
My tech guy suggests I try a program called calibre. I see that it does interface with Itunes which would seem to be a good thing. But then Sigil seemed to be a good thing till I put the ebooks produced with it on my Ipod.
Thursday (the 20th)
I work 1000-2100.
I have been stoking Tony for Christmas by telling him how many days to go.
I have ten ideas for the WCE Blog. I don't know when I will have the time to write them out.
The world is supposed to end tomorrow. In some ways it would be a relief if it did – the new four years of the Obama Administration will make the apocalypse look like a stroll in the park.
Calibre seemed to make my epubs load faster on the Ipod. I look forward to installing Calibre on my laptop at home to see how it interacts with Itunes and my Ipod touch.
Tony likes the voice control feature on the Ipod touch. He knows how to bring the feature up on the Ipod touch. Only problem is that he doesn't know how to pronounce "the Jam." He continually says "play songs by the James!" at the Ipod touch.
My wife tells me that she has found a place where large-sized shoes are sold.
First class in the morning. I talk to a woman from Japan about Science.
Another problem I have with people who label themselves as middle-of-the-road politically is that they are really leftists in denial. Every person whom I have meet who has called himself middle-of-the-road has been an enthusiastic supporter of Obama.
On the Wuxi local television news recently, my wife saw a report about some foreign pre-school teacher being in financial difficulties because he had a 100,000 rmb operation. His school was able to lend him 50,000 for the operation for which he had 3,000 of his own to pay for it. The teacher told the reporter that many locals assumed all foreigners were rich when in fact some were and some weren't; and he wasn't.
I told the teachers at school about this story but none said they knew of the fellow – apparently, he was an American who had only been in Wuxi since April.
One of the trainers asked me why it was that this story would make the television news. I told him about how I have seen the most mundane of stories make that news show – they report on conflicts between neighbors and go into great depth about people being victimized by petty crime. Stories like this are about problems not caused by the government and are of such minor importance that no high-up government official would look bad because of them. In the case of the story of the kindergarten teacher, the foreigner looks pathetic and imprudent, and the management of the school, who were said to have then bought insurance, looks bad as well.
I just learned, from the Japanese student, that the Japanese emperor's birthday is December 24th – the same as mine. I don't know if I should tell the Chinese students this, but I tell you this because I find it very interesting. (By the time you do read this, it will be my birthday or it will have just passed. Don't worry. I will gladly accept belated birthday greetings or gifts of money.)
Last night, I finished listening to the 70th episode of Frank Delaney's ReJoyce podcast.
The Calibre Software that Sir Paul Rudkin told me seems to have solved my epub problem.
Last night, a student pronounced "Germany" so that it sounded to me like "Japan." I had asked him to which country in the world he wanted to travel. I thought I heard him that he wanted to go to Japan because it was quiet, especially on Sundays. I told him that that made sense since Japan had a lot of old people these days.
Tomorrow night's English Corner topic: World Peace.
For a class tonight, I will teach Currie and Suri.
Right now, I will teach Queena, Pasily, and Tina. If I had had a daughter, her name would have been Tina.
Every student named Elaine gets, from me, a description of the final scenes of the Graduate.
There is a rumor, I have been told, that I was going to join Web – that is, a competing school in Wuxi. Astounding to me. But it is interesting to be the subject of rumors that couldn't be farther from the truth.
It is raining. It wasn't raining when I left the house this morning and so I thought it would be okay for my to wear my shoes that have a hole in a sole.
Friday (the 21st)
I work 1100-2100.
Four Days till Christmas! I tell Tony. Tony goes to school today and then gets four days off.
It supposed to be the end of the world today. Pessimist I have become, I have no confidence that this is going to happen.
For my first class, I am scheduled to teach a student named Yao Ming Yi. This student is not a tall wannabee basketball player, she is pretty and shy, and a wearer of glasses without which she would be squinty. I tease her and sometimes call her Michael Jordan.
At this moment in time, I am leaning towards stoic withdrawal. I am a million miles away from other people here.
I found a new podcast last night: Alexander: a History of. I couldn't download it on my laptop. I tried to use one of my VPN programs to help with this but it didn't work. I was baffled as what to do till I thought to use the VPN on my Ipod. I don't like to download podcasts wirelessly onto my Ipod touch because it takes too long, preferring to do it on my laptop, but in the case of this podcast, it seemed to be my only option....
…..And it worked!
The internet at school is intermittent. Sometimes, I can't get my gmail. Sometimes, I can put photos into my email blog postings.
I listened to podcasts #70 & #71 of Frank Delaney's ReJoyce Podcast last night.
What does Wuxi China Expatdom Queen Ayira look like? Visit here to find out.
I got an email from the Haucault Family.
Yao Ming Yi, her English name is Mamie, was wearing a Hoodie bearing the Beatles' Yellow Submarine album cover. She told me she bought it at a shop in Chongan Market because she like the design. She didn't know who the Beatles were, how famous they were, and that Yellow Submarine was a famous song.
What is your fantasy? I ask the Chinese Male Student. He tells me that he has a castle in the mountains surrounded by fields for farming. I ask him when the beautiful girls in bikinis are hanging out. He tells me there aren't any.... I don't think they understand the concept of having fantasies. I wonder if the students have any imagination.
Today, my friend Michael in the Hui Shan District, tells me is the Winter Solstice Festival in China.
Saturday (the 22nd)
I work 1000-1800.
I wear a fleece jacket, a wind breaker, a scarf, and a toque to work. I was comfortable and I didn't feel like I was overdoing it.
What is the difference between popularity and democracy? Popularity is whatever the mob likes. Democracy is voting for leaders who hopefully are more wise than we are, and may well do the unpopular thing because it is right. That is my stab at the question.
Pizza for lunch.
None of the students has any big plans for Christmas – it is a foreign thing they tell me.
A female student tells me that girls don't have as many friends as boys do. She was saying that boys were more gregarious than girls?
Friday night, Tony had a balloon. He pushed it into the air. He jumped around the apartment. He screamed and laughed. His father wanted him to stop.
I took a photo of the church that our school overlooks. The building is begin dolled up for Christmas.
I published two stories today in the WCE Blog: Wuxi Expat bikes to work and Irish Expat wants to make Wuxi the Donnybrook of China. I am particularly proud of the second headline.
I have have listened to episode 75 of the Frank Delaney ReJoyce Podcast.
Sunday (the 23rd)
I work 1000-1800 today.
The parking at the nearby church is overflowing. Because Christmas, which is on Tuesday this year, is not a holiday in China, Chinese churchgoers are doing their Christmas services today. I saw a parking attendant monitoring e-bike parking in front of our school – the first time I have ever seen it.
I listened to episode 76&77 of the Frank Delaney Podcast last night. I also listened to the latest episode of the podcast (#132a) because it wasn't about the novel Ulysess but about Joyce's famous short story "The Dead." I will catch up, at the rate I am going, in about two weeks I figure.
I took the #25 Bus to work this morning. It is the cheap bus, costing only one rmb. The buses are no frills – no A/C, no video screens, and creeky suspension. I hadn't been riding it for a while so I noticed how there seemed to be a lot old people on it.
I ask a student where she would like to travel in the world. She tells me she would like to travel to the Maldives. I ask her why. She tells me that the sex scene is wonderful. Surprised, I asked her to repeat what she said. She repeated what I thought she said the frist time. I asked to her to say her answer again. She then said that Zach said it was wonderful. I expressed relief.
I asked the next student where she would like to travel. She told me never. I told her that she should nowhere, not never. But she corrected herself and said Norway.
I wonder if these incidents (there was one earlier this week) were the result of students' bad pronunciation or my hearing succumbing to the ravages of listening to too much pop music and talk on my MP3 playing devices.
I saw some flurries as I taught my 1300 class! Jenny tells me that she saw some snow in Hui Shan though she wasn't sure it was snow or not.
I will get Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off. Yahoo!
My English Corner was about Santa Claus. Will you marry Santa Claus? I asked the ladies...
How does it work? That was the topic before my last class before Christmas. It was full of my least favorite students. Teenage boys, with rare exceptions, should be put in cages.
I upload two videos to Youtube: Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #38 & The Best Birthday Present a Father Could Ever Have.