Gratitude: I want to thank a rare reader, Omar from Dallas, for giving me the idea to write fifty things I like about living in Wuxi.
Acknowledgment: Things are too easy at the moment. I spend three hours at work a day surfing the Internet, studying Chinese, reading e-books because I have nothing pressing to do. And so at the back of my mind...
Request: As always, any comments or question or criticisms you have for me are welcome.
AKIC's Week in Brief:
This will be known, for the next year or so, as the week that I got an Ipad Mini. Or rather, as I now should say, the week I ordered the Ipad Mini. Having ordered it on Friday the 11th, I had originally expected it to arrive on Sunday the 13th or Monday the 14th. But on Saturday the 12th,, my wife told me that the company had phoned her to tell her it would arrive on Wednesday the 16th at the earliest. Disappointed, of course, to hear the news, I will still live.
Other than that, I went to work only four days this week. I had Sunday off – my days off have changed to Sunday & Monday.
Tony didn't go to school because the government's decision to punish the parents of children who are taken by van to school, because countryside vans taking kids to kindergartens were overcrowded and got into accidents.
There was decoration going on in the last unoccupied apartment in our building and the noise was so loud that it made one go out of one's mind.
Fifty or So Things I Like about Living in Wuxi
I met my wife here.
I know the place.
It has got lots of bridges.
It has lots of boat traffic.
It is not so cold in the winter, and yet I can wear lots of clothing in winter.
It has Pizza Hut.
It has a good bus system.
It has a double-decker bus.
It doesn't have so many foreigners living in it.
There aren't too many fat chicks.
There are lots of slim girls with long hair.
You very rarely meet feminists or feminazis.
There isn't so much anti-smoking fascism.
Their barbaric local dialect gives me an excuse for my having horrible Chinese.
You can buy liquor at the corner store.
Liquor and cigarettes are cheap!
It has McDonald's.
It has an Ikea.
It is very hard to get deep-fried chicken balls here.
You can see real Chinese people. It has a real big China town.
I get a big kick out of the auto accidents that happen here.
The government here is bad. However, you can't blame anyone you know because they didn't vote for them. I hate to be living in Obamaland.
Here, one can swear profusely and get away with it.
It has a lot of bats.
You never suffer from a wont of company.
Foreigners stand out and you can easily avoid them.
You can see peasants.
You are never too far from a Xinjiang Restaurant.
I can go a weekend without seeing a foreigner.
The foreigners congregate in certain spots so it is easy to avoid them.
You can see people wearing pajamas on the street.
My local small shop is a mess. I love being able to get a bottle of beer myself like I am a warehouse.
You don't have to clean up after yourself in a restaurant.
Wuxi has lots of street hawkers.
The state, though making encroachments, doesn't seem to have completely regulated small-time capitalism.
There is a spot near my home where I can take my son Tony train-spotting.
People do have, or at least pretend to have, traditional values.
They observe Christmas here but don't observe the shopping aspects.
I can see a few old men dressed in Mao suits and hats.
They love children here.
I can feel a celebrity at times.
It is a good place to feed's one misanthropy.
There are two new years to celebrate or to not celebrate.
On western New Year's eve, one can stay home and it doesn't seem like you are missing anything.
My Wuxi bus pass which is pay-as-you-go.
Using a mobile phone is pay-as-you-go.
After eight years, I still see things done by human beings that I never thought were possible.
I always have plenty of topics to blog about.
There are plenty of people on the street who hawk things or can provide useful services like bike repair, shoe repair, umbrella repair, and bag repair.
It has churches and mosques and temples.
Grandma's restaurant on the 7th floor of Ba Bai Ban.
It now has a store that sells shoes that can fit my size 47 feet.
Don Colacho's Aphorisms
Pascal's Pensees: Finished. At times, the book was quite elevating.
The Baltimore Catechism: Finished. I like its simple question and answer format about all aspects of Catholicism.
Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling: Finished. The Empress Dowager talks about the Boxer Rebellion and worries about the Russo-Japanese War.
Ulysses by James Joyce I am following along with Frank Delaney as he goes through the novel. Delaney figures he will do his last ReJoyce Podcast in 22 years. It has been serving as a counterweight to the Catholic works I have been reading.
Benita: An African Romance by H Rider Haggard: I am reading it I have a sister named Benita who currently lives in British Columbia, Canada.
Monday (the 7th)
Jeepers! They have started decorating an apartment on the floor above us. Even though, it is across the hallway, the sound of the workers using mallets to tear down walls is so loud, it feels like it they are right above us!
I walked up the stairs to swear at the workers! Fuck! I screamed at them. Not that it did any good. Maybe you should take Anger management classes. Then again, maybe you should have had a gun. Apartment decoration workers are no respecters of the people living in areas near where they do their work. They also are no respecters of property. They destroy the hallways of the apartments they work in.
Tony is plugging his ears because of the apartment decoration noise.
I've completed my December 31 to January 6 entry. I hope they were no mistakes or typos. Probably there were many errors of logic but what I am going to do about that. I am getting to old to change my paradigms.
At least, I don't work today.
I took Tony with me to the Golden Bridge Market as I went a light bulb for the kitchen. All the women there were obsessed with Tony, and asking me all sorts of questions about him. I answered the questions I could understand. When I thought someone asked me how old I was, I ran away.
I bought Tony a Ultraman mask.
Why is it that those who were most contemptuous of Bush's seeking to impose western ways on Iraq exhibit a contempt of Chinese ways?
I read an an article on Keynes that praises his utopian vision. If I had the time, I would love to critique it. As it is, the article ends with the following quote: Popular anger has boiled over in a string of electoral defeats for the advocates of austerity. But, unlike the right-wing tribalism that has formed part of that backlash, progressive politics cannot, in the end, rely on anger. It must offer the hope of a better life. That means reclaiming utopian visions such as that of Keynes. Everything in these four sentences is, to my thinking, complete hogwash.
Tuesday (the 8th)
I don't work. So, I sleep in.
Jenny says I don't do anything when I get up early. So to please her, I stay in bed and not do anything.
We are going to get an Ipad Mini! 32G!
A German fellow in Shanghai re-tweeted my tweet that was made after I posted my blog entry announcement to wordpress.
We will take some video and photos of Tony. He has a chance to be a model in a Haier commercial.
I often forget to take off my home spectacles – I also have spectacles that I wear at school. I realize my mistake just as I have left the apartment building and have walked 50 meters. So I trudge back having wasted five minutes of my life.
In the afternoon, I go to the bank and do some shopping. Tony doesn't accompany me. But he makes a point of entering a voice memo into my Ipod to remind that I have to buy chips. He later phones me while I am at Tesco to remind me yet again I have to buy chips.
At the bank, I took a number. I then I took a seat. I saw that there was Wifi and sent my wife messages via QQ and the Ipod Touch's message app. I then had an employee ask me what my number was. I saw that his job, and that of another worker, was to see that the customers didn't miss their numbers being called. I took advantage of this to play on my Ipod and not bother to look to see if my number was called – the employees were going to remind me.
I listened to the latest Econtalk podcast and now I have a little project for myself. As a loyal listener, I will fulfill a request from the host Ross Roberts and tell him what my three favorite Econtalk podcasts of 2012 were. But I will have to look at the archive.
Jenny & I did the Tony model project. Here is the video we made on Youku. Here is the video on TKIC wordpress. Here is the video at TKIC blogspot.com. Pick your poison. We took lots of photos. I only posted the best ones. Here is one at TKIC Blogspot. Here is another at TKIC Wordpress. Here is yet another at AKIC wordpress.
I had to edit Tony's model video twice. The first edit was too much for the Window's Moviemaker software on my Dell laptop. Forgetting to save the project as I was making the video, I lost everything when I tried to get the program to process and create my video – Windows Moviemaker conked out. I lost about an hour's work. I had to re-start the editing process from scratch, making sure this time to save my work every step of the way. When I was satisfied that my video was edited properly, I got the program to process it. The first time, I had the error message "Windows Moviemaker has stopped working" appear. This was the message I saw the first time. This second time, I didn't lose my work but I was left with the worry that the laptop didn't have the capability of processing my video. I tried again and then again before the video was finally processed! Video editing is hard on computers, obviously.
Wednesday (the 9th)
At Tesco yesterday, I bought a pocket-sized wire-ringed notebook. I feel I need the notebook to take down notes for this blog or to record some thoughts I have when I don't feel like typing.
I listened to Rejoyce podcast #110 last night.
Someone, who came upon my blog because he was researching prospects of teaching in Wuxi, tells me that he ultimately decided to refuse a job offer from a Wuxi High School. I don't know all his reasons. I told him that of many people teaching at Wuxi suburban schools, where he had a job offer, finding it pretty grim. He told me about the reaction he got to his dark skin color at another place he had been to in China. I could tell some tales I have heard about the reaction of the Chinese to persons of a darker hue. (I could tell stories of locals laughing at the hair on my arms that was akin to the locals dealing with darker hued skin.) And at my school, I am ashamed to say, there is a policy of wanting native English speakers who look a certain way. When I had to worry about these things, one of my scariest prospects was having to deal with applicants who when I first saw them weren't qualified... The shame of it!
On the bus ride to work, I listen to podcasts about philosophy. Opening my backpack to pull out my Elementary Chinese Reader, I notice I had forgotten to bring along the lunch I had made.
The podcast about Aristotle was narrated by Charlton Heston. What a voice Chuck has!
I work 1300-2100.
English corner topic: the alphabet.
300 PM: The English Corner didn't chug along as I had hoped till the end when I played a game with the students. What we did was we went through the alphabet starting at "A" and working working our way to "Z" through a process of word association. So, if we start with the word Apple, we must choose a word that starts with "B" and try to describe a relationship between the two words. If we can't, we must choose another word.
Why do I do these things? Why do I tempt fate? Why do I mock the Gods? I don't realize I am doing it, I could say. That is why I thought nothing of putting the Gangnam Style song on the mobile phone and then playing the song for Tony. The Gods, angered at my misusing the gift of foresight they had had given, had Tony listen to the song ten times in succession.
Tony, with the phone playing the Gangnam Style song placed nearby, brought out his toy guitar and put on his Ultraman mask, and danced.
Thursday (the 10th)
I work 1000-2100.
I am wearing my brown Doc Martens boots to work. I say this because I can't think of anything else on which to blog.
Each day of the week, I will wear a different pair of footwear to work.
I have a bit of money so I will go to Ba Bai Ban to buy Tony some Takara TOMY track. I am debating whether to buy him some bendable track. It may well be that the bendable track which initially seems useful may be of limited application. There could be times when this track is either too short or too long to solve some layout problem I may have.
Last night, I listened to episode #111 of the ReJoyce Podcast. Joyce the blasphemer! Whatever. That is what is boring about him! Joyce was biting the hand that fed his incredible learning, for even as Delaney admits, Joyce owed a big debt to the Catholic tradition of learning.
After reading this blog post by David Warren, I now have to add some books about Medieval Europe to my Epub collection.
I will play some NHL fantasy hockey. The name of your team? The Wuxi Peach Kings.
1245 PM: I have gone to Ba Bai Ban, a shopping center that is near my school. I looked at some train track accessories I could buy for Tony's Takara TOMY train set. I decided against buying the bendable track. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that the applications for it would be few. It would also probably encourage Tony to try to break all normal bounds in building his layouts. So, I bought Tony three sets of straight track – you can't go wrong with straight track – and some yellow pillars for elevated track layouts. I then went to the Apple shop, and learned the price for an Ipad Mini 32G. I passed on the information to my wife and she says she will buy one on line from the shop where she bought her Iphone. I then put 200 rmb on my Wuxi bus pass.
105 PM: I forget to mention. But last night, I had a student tell me that her mother committed suicide. This came up when I asked the students what values they had in life and where they got them from. The female student, in a class of seven, told me that she learned the importance of family after her mother killed herself. Normally, I would have offered my sympathies to the student and just carried on with the class – not wanting to dwell on students telling me sad news from their lives; but I had to confirm what the woman said. She had told me about her mother in a matter-of-fact way without any grimace in her countenance. I thought she might have said the wrong thing. But she confirmed it and I then offered my sympathies and mentioned how the death of my father made me realize some things about family as well.
150 PM: I have just sent an email to the host of the Econtalk podcast. In the last Econtalk podcast, he asked loyal listeners, of whom I can be counted, what their three favorite 2012 Econtalk podcasts were. After reviewing the 2012 archives, I sent him an email. I choose the three episodes I could most remember. I also thought of a way for him to get Paul Krugman on the show. Get the Keynesian to talk about Science Fiction.
530 PM: I had the beef fried rice for dinner.
Friday (the 11th)
I work 1100-2100.
I wore a new pair of shoes to work, and so I was primarily concerned, in my stream-of-consciousness with how they fit. The shoes were slip-ons and they felt a little big.
Now, I have put on a extra pair of socks. I have yet to walk around in them. Oh God! Please give my feet a snug feeling.
The shoes are tight! Ouch!
Taking the #635 bus home is a pain now because more and more people are catching it at my stop. The night before last, I was able to snag last available seat – the closest I came to having to stand again.
I listened to a Popup Chinese podcast on my Ipod Touch last night. The topic was the return of the China blog. Apparently, since 2010, there had been a drop off in blogs about China. But, recently there had been a resurgence. Who knew? I didn't. But, I don't pay much attention to blogs about China. I know enough that world doesn't need another amateur Sinologist. It would be futile for me to attempt to be one. My knowledge of the Chinese language is minimal and my interests lie elsewhere.
One of the talkers on the podcast also said something about blogging on the blogspot platform. It is a shameful thing to be doing so the talker seem to say. I suppose I should get a wuxiandis.com address. But my wife would properly wonder what the point of my having such a url would be.
Our company Chinese New Year Dinner will be on Saturday, January 26th.
I forgot to take something for Angel to school. Angel is a friend of my wife and a student here of sorts. She is well-off financially it would seem. Her son is attending a Big Ten University in America, and she hangs out at the school. Anyway, I forgot to bring this bag containing things for Angel from Casa Kaulins. It was the third time I have failed in performing a courier task for my wife. The knowing, I had to do the task, did enter my mind when I was still at home this morning, but it was only for an instant. I left the apartment with the bag I was to bring still beside the apartment entrance.
Last night, in a class about adventure, a student told me that when she was a child, she and her friends would go to the local manure pit and beat snakes with sticks.
To keep myself busy at school, I work through the Chinese flashcards on Yellowbridge. The only problem is the site seeps through the great firewall. I have had some days where it takes forever for the cards to load, or even worse, the site does load at all.
Lunch: Pizza from the nearby Italian restaurant.
200 PM: The first class. I almost lost it. The students were their typical unimaginative selves. The topic was sub-cultures. The students couldn't understand was a sub-group was. I asked them what groups or sub-groups of students could they remember from their school days. I told them of the jocks, nerds, metal-heads, and other sub-types I could remember from my school days. One student told me that he graduated from school six years and couldn't remember. I told him I that I could remember the sub-groups from my school days which ended over thirty years ago, and that it was pathetic that he couldn't.
Saturday (the 12th)
Last night, I my English corner topic was Balding. A strange topic I know, and the students told me as much, but I am balding, so what the heck! Chelsea, who is a doctor, told me that there were lots of medications to deal with the disease of balding. When I told the students about the comb-over, they told me someone I knew was doing such a thing – about that, I told I knew nothing.
I work 1000-1800 today.
930 AM: I was just listening to a podcast where this guy named Alex Jones was giving it to Piers Morgan. If you were on the side of Jones who is a guns right supporter, you mostly enjoyed it. Jones shouted down Morgan and wouldn't let the Brit speak – a thing that Morgan is notorious for doing. Jones shouted facts at Morgan who could only pip-squeak tiny factoids in response. Jones then put on a mock Brit accent to mock Morgan. Morgan's maybe only scoring point was to try to associate Jones with 9/11 truthers.
Listening to the debate, I felt my blood pressure rise.
Tony has been sleeping on my side of the bed this past week. That is, instead of lying between Jenny & I, he has changed places so that I am the one who sleeps in the middle. I think he is mad at Jenny for her home-schooling techniques.
I should receive my Ipad Mini in the next day or so. Jenny ordered it on the Internet yesterday.
The kitchen light bulb. Earlier this week, I went to the Golden Bridge Market to buy one because we needed a replacement.. Since then, this bulb, or perhaps I should say the vaguely pretzel-shaped light tube, has been a source of anxiety for me because it isn't working properly. What is happening is that the tube stops working because its connection to the ceiling outlet is loose. So, I have had to frequently open the ceiling light cover to press upwards on the tube to get the proper connection so that light happens. Jenny keeps telling me I am not fitting the light tube in tight enough. But pressing up too hard would cause the whole light assembly to get out place. Really, the light assembly is a ceiling tile above which there is empty space. The only solution, I think, is to tape the tube tightly to the assembly. (I don't know what word I should use instead of assembly, but I hope you get my meaning)
215 PM: I get a phone call from my son Tony. He is looking for a pink book. What he means is that he wants to buy a pink Ultraman book that he had browsed through the week before. Then, he had changed his mind about the book and took it back, so he could buy others. Right now, Tony is at Nanchang Temple.
Again, I had pizza for lunch.
217 PM: Two more classes and I'm done!
Sunday (the 13th)
I don't work today. My days off will now be Sunday & Monday. I will have no excuse now to not go to church.
Modern Media: Superficial & Hasty. I agree with the man who says that the following the news daily makes one stupid.
Last night, the K family had dinner in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the shadows of the Moresky360 building. The restaurant was in a back alley. It was small but busy and some customers were eating on make-shift tables and stools just outside its entrance. Inside, there was a narrow walkway between two rows of tables & benches. Groups and Strangers had to sit together. Next to us sat two young girls. One of them had nice high cheekbones but a bad case of acne. When the girls left, we had to stand up to let them pass. The food was okay but I would have preferred to have eaten at the next-door Muslim restaurant. I ate meat balls and glass noodles served in tall pail-like container.
We then took the #602 bus home.
At home, Tony & I had four circuits of tracks set up so Tony could almost have all six of his TOMY trains running at the same time.
1140 AM: The K family slept in. It is cold and damp outside. It doesn't look like they will be doing much.
I learned the My Ipad Mini won't arrive till Wednesday at the earliest.
I have to find a way to pay for the Proxycap Software. I tried to last night but it didn't accept my credit card.
430 PM: Damn! The mouse isn't working on my computer. I decided to try and solve my jumping cursor problem – that is, when I am typing, the cursor will go about ten lines of text for no discernible reason. The touchpad driver that I just installed has completely disabled my mouse – there is a pointer locked in the center of the screen. I have to use keyboard shortcuts to work the laptop. What is really annoying is that to try to do a system restore, I need a goddamn mouse!
Because of the decoration going on in that fourth floor apartment, the hallway is covered with a lot of dust.
530 PM: I was finally able to snag the mouse from my wife's computer. And my problem is solved. I may even have solved the problem I had originally which caused me to go two steps backwards in trying to solve it. I think that changing the touchpad's sensitivity on my laptop with stop the cursor-jumping problem.
1000 PM: I help Tony do some arithmetic. He needs to use his fingers to add two plus two.
I also listened to episode #115 of the Rejoyce Podcast.