Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blog Entry for February 25, 2013 to March 3, 2013

Gratitude: Thanks to you for visiting my blog. I hope you read this entry to the end and offer some comments. I further hope you will come back once a week and check up what is happening in my life. I publish photos of my life in China here.

Acknowledgment: I don't have that many readers. I can't really think of myself as a blogger anymore.

Request: Despite what I said in the gratitude section, I realize there is no point in asking my rare and far-and-in-between readers for anything. I am just going to have to talk to the big guy. Now. What do I want? Actually, I want what is good for my son, wife and mother.

The AKIC Week in Brief: Recently, I have really slowed down on my contributions to the Internet. I may be running out of ideas or nothing much is happening in my life. Like last week, it has been a slow week for me with nothing notable happening. I can't help but think & feel, however, that is is the calm before the storm.

Richard Nixon at 100

The week which saw a second rate NBA star visit North Korea, was also the week of Richard Nixon's 100th birthday. In 1972, Nixon made a visit to a China that was in a state of impoverishment and imprisonment similar to that of North Korea now. Nixon's visit lead to the opening up of China and the lifting of hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. It would really be something if somehow Rodman's visit lead to a similar freeing of North Koreans but I say this because I am trying to seem generous and optimistic. (There is more about Rodman's visit below.)

I don't hate Nixon as most, it seems, are compelled to do. In fact, I have a soft spot in my heart for him. He was a decent but flawed man brought down by despicable people. I fondly recall how he was recorded as referring to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau as a c**ksucker in those oval office tapes. In Canada, Trudeau is portrayed as having made a rhetorical triumph by saying, when asked about what Nixon said, that he had been called worse things by better people. Truth be told, Nixon had the full measure of Trudeau, and was really restraining himself in what he said.

Trudeau had a connection with China too. He visited the place during the time of Mao's regime and was full of praise for it. Which just goes to show how good Trudeau, who had Fidel Castro as a pall-bearer, was at measuring things. (But to give the devil his due, Trudeau did establish diplomatic relationship with Beijing before America did. That he did so really wasn't that important. The most famous Canadians in China are Norman Bethune, Da Shan, Celine Dion, and Justin Bieber.)

Happy Birthday Richard Nixon! Rot in hell P.E.T.!

One final thing: I have distinct memories from my childhood reading the news of the resignation of Nixon in 74 and Mao's death in 76. Being very young then, I was disappointed to see Nixon resign. He seemed so presidential I thought at the time. (But then I thought at the time that Trudeau was cool. So, half-foolish I was.)

What AKIC Is Reading this Week

  • Don Colacho's Aphorisms: there are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled myself. I read ten aphorisms at a time. I cut and paste the better ones – they are all profound actually – and I put them in my weekly blog entry.

  • The Life of Johnson by Boswell. Finished it for the third time. A great read. Depend upon it, if I could say one thing in my life that was as wise and striking as everything Doctor Johnson said, I would be very lucky indeed.

  • Ulysses by James Joyce I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly goes through Joyce's modernist novel. Delaney is making the novel more understandable and enjoyable. Delaney figures he will do his last ReJoyce Podcast in 22 years. Now that I have caught up to Delaney's podcast, I am getting ahead him as far as reading the book. I will be finished it, I figure, in the year.

  • The Holy Bible King James Version. The Gospels According to Saint Matthew & Saint Mark. I have been reading the book, all the while – the KJV that is.

  • The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle. An adventure set in the Middle Ages. There is more to Doyle than Sherlock Holmes.

  • History of the Conquest of Peru by William Hickling Prescott. Finished. A really gripping history. Having been ignorant of the events, this history read like a suspense novel.

  • Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. Calling Conservatives Fascists is asinine.

  • Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikotter: the famine is not talked much in China. I have had a few students mention it to me. The Chicoms cynically harp on the Rape of Nanking and never mention the brutal things they did to the Chinese as well.

This Week's Don Colacho Quotes

  • 1137 Social problems are the favorite refuge of those fleeing their own problems. That explains my interest in politics. I realize that I am wasting my time and my family's time but occupying myself with it as I do. It doesn't matter what I think. Whatever happens will happen and there is nothing I can do about it except have the courage to deal whatever the consequences of world events are on me personally.

  • 1140 The only man who thanks life for what it gives him is the man who does not expect everything from life. I realized this when I was twenty.

  • 1196 Boredom is the antonym of solitude.

  • 1281 Everything that interrupts a tradition obliges us to start over. And every origin is bloody. Just look at Russian and Chinese history.

  • 1292 The intelligent man quickly reaches reactionary conclusions. Today, however, the universal consensus of fools turns him into a coward. When they interrogate him in public, he denies being a Galilean. Anyone who reads an honest writer must be prepared to read something that both flatters his conceit and puts himself in his place. This quote does it for me.

  • 1310 The recluse is humanity's delegate to what is important. God! I love this quote!

  • 1329 Each day we demand more from society so that we can demand less from ourselves. So true.

  • 1338 Our tolerance grows with our disdain.

A Quote from David Warren

  • There is nothing so Canadian as a blueberry. Left-wingers and people from Canada who label themselves middle-of-the-road make me ashamed to be Canadian. Reactionaries like David Warren and Rednecks like Don Cherry bring back a sense of Canadian patriotism in my cold, cold heart. (You can find that quote here. Warren also writes a fine tribute to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger here.)

Quotes from the Life of Johnson (Two of the three are admonishments.)

  • Most friendships are formed by caprice or by chance, mere confederacies in vice or leagues in folly. So who needs them?

  • Courage is a quality so necessary for maintaining virtue, that it is always respected, even when it is associated with vice.

  • I recollect nothing that passed this day, except Johnson's quickness, who, when Dr. Beattie observed, as something remarkable which had happened to him, that he had chanced to see both No. 1, and No. 1000, of the hackney-coaches, the first and the last; 'Why, Sir, (said Johnson,) there is an equal chance for one's seeing those two numbers as any other two.' That is the sort of observation I would make in my blog!

Daily Entries

Monday (the 25th)

  • Went to Ikea, the Kaulins family did. Photos, you can see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • I tried to reload my Microsoft Train Simulator on my home laptop so I could access the editor with which I wanted to teach Tony to make his own consists. This created problems. The program didn't work until I installed it on a different drive from which I had originally stored its files. I have tried to bringing over added files, that I had downloaded off the net, to the new file location but some of them have worked and some of them haven't.

  • I talked to my Mom. Her desktop is dead. She doesn't have the Internet for now. I suggested that she get a Ipad.

Tuesday (the 26th)

  • I work 1300-2100.

  • A new trainer – an American from Iowa – has arrived.

  • I found a new book to use to study Chinese characters. The book groups together characters that look like and creates a narrative as to how they can become built up.

  • I taught a student named Jill. She is a skeet-shooter or some sort of athlete who fires guns at moving targets. She is training in hopes of getting into the next Olympics. Her English is not so good however, and I have to force her to make sentences. I have to be as strict as she says her coach is. (When she tried to describe her coach, she was lost for words. I assumed she meant strict so I put on a stern face and briefly walked around the classroom like I was a sergeant-major. She nodded in affirmation at my prancing.)

  • In tournament #9, I finished play in group 2C. The results & final standings can be seen here.

Wednesday (the 27th)

  • I work 1300-2100.

  • Last night, I was given four classes to teach this day. When I arrived this morning at school, I saw they had book a fifth class for me. My gut reaction was annoyance which I knew I shouldn't feel.

  • Riding the bus today to work, I was so absorbed in the books that I was reading on my Ipad that I didn't realize I was at my destination till I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that everyone was getting off the bus. Thankfully, my stop was the terminal stop of the route so I didn't have to double back.

  • McDonald's has a double bacon burger with mashed potato in it. Mmmmm!

Thursday (the 28th)

  • It is hard to believe that February is just about finished! Boy! Did the month seem to go fast! Is it just me or was it a few days shorter than other months?

  • I work 1000-2100 today.

  • Right now, I don't have classes to teach in the morning. So, I can work on my Chinese.

  • I listened to a London School of Economics lecture on the new leadership in China. It didn't tell me anything I didn't know. The professors spoke professorially and that was that. But to be fair, I learned that the leadership hates the North Koreans as much as the rest of the world does.

  • As I crossing at an intersection near Casa Kaulins, this car making a left turn blared its horn at me. I kept on walking, made the car come to a halt, and glared at its driver. I also noticed that Chinese drivers don't believe in stopping at a red lights before making a right turn. BASTARDS!!

Friday (the 1st)

  • Tony is back to school today, after a two month hiatus. He was picked up the same old van, so what the purpose of the moratorium on school vans is beyond me.

  • Tony behaved very well this morning. I wasn't expecting this. He woke up with no fuss and he seemed very enthusiastic to go to school.

  • I work 1100-2100.

  • It is rainy and windy today. A doubly annoying combination.

  • I found it interesting to read that Peter Hitchens, the younger brother of Christoper Hitchens likes e-book readers. As he says:  for someone who loves to read, and travels quite a bit, e-readers are a boon. You can load a dozen books, for all occasions, into the device, and it weighs no more than a middle-sized paperback. Now, I don't travel at all anymore – funny thing for a Canadian to say who is living in China but it is true – but, Casa Kaulins doesn't have space for a thousand actual physical books which I would like to have. I am an avid reader and I love the fact that I can put a thousand books on my Ipad – I think I now have more books on my Ipad than I had in my last Canadian apartment where I had about four shelves packed with books.

  • P. Hitchens, like his deceased brother C, is someone you I completely agree with but when he is on my side, I am quick to steal his arguments. P. Hitchens is no fan of Ronald Reagan and the United States for example – I don't like that. But he is a conservative and a Christian unlike his brother. I suppose P. has less renown that his brother because he never achieved fame in the USA. Ultimately, P is the more intellectually coherent Hitchens.

Saturday (the 2nd)

  • I work 1000 to 1800.

  • Having the new trainer throws me off my routine today. I didn't do much Chinese study as I felt I ought.

  • I saw photos and video of the Dennis Rodman visit to the North Korea while I was riding the bus to work. I wasn't sure that it was really Dennis Rodman I saw until I read reports confirming it on the Internet. And so I wonder. Can such a visit be a propaganda coup for the Norks? Anyone who knows that Rodman is a grade D celebrity, realizes that the Nork leader is really lowering himself to be in Rodman's company and so can't help but see what a pathetic light it puts the North Korean regime in. But Rodman was a teammate of Micheal Jordan who has a god-like status in China for instance. So, you just don't know.

Sunday (the 3rd)

  • I didn't work today.

  • I didn't get to sleep in however. Tony had a drawing class downtown. The class started at 1015 and finished at 1130.

  • While at Tony's drawing classroom, which was on the 11th floor, I took a photo of a nearby apartment building to wonder effect, I think.

  • After Tony's class was done, the K family walked to their regular hair salon so Andis could get his hair neatened up – he will be shooting a commercial for the school on Thursday. The K's then walked to Nanchang Temple Market so they could buy some roast duck. Jenny made the food purchase and since the place was packed with people, Tony & Andis had lots of time to look for Ultraman books in the book market while Jenny stood in line. Once Tony found a book he wanted, he & his father went to the Nanchang pet market – it was far too crowded and Andis held tightly onto Tony's hand so he wouldn't lose him. Andis's other arm was inadvertently elbowing every passerby.

  • I finished reading Boswell's Life of Johnson and The Conquest of Peru. I also finished play in the first round of Tournament #9.

  • I either take too many pictures or not enough. I say this because I didn't take any photos except on Monday and Sunday. And when I do take photos, I take so many and I don't have enough power of discrimination to just publish one or two. I will publish five or six even if they are practically the same.

  • I saw a suppertime news report from the local television station about the Sunday crowds at Mei Yuan Park. They were large and because of all the cars that were brought with them, there were some problems like traffic jams and lack of parking spots. I saw images of three-lane roads turned into parking lines and a long line of cars all having had sticky parking tickets attached to their driver-side windows. It made me want to stay home and be even more reclusive. With the government running the media here, I wondered at the motives in showing the congestion. Did they want to show the abundance in China? Did they want to dissuade people from using their cars? Did the station need some content to fill their newscast and this was okay to show?

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