Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog Entry for March 25 to March 31, 2013

Gratitude: Some nice things happen to me that I just don't deserve. I am thankful that I know this.

Acknowledgment: Have I told you I am a coward? I must have, but I will say it again. I am too scared to tell you why.

Request: Please make comments! I have other requests but I am too scared to mention them.

The AKIC Week in Brief: I read a lot of e-books and watched several films on my Ipod Mini. As I went to work, I looked for sights to mention in my blog entries. I should have done something for Easter but didn't.

I'm in China!

I don't talk much about China in this blog. Do I? So, I am thinking I should be doing a weekly feature where I comment on the passing Chinese scene.

So this is it.

A few students have told me that they hope Xi Jing Ping can follow through with his talk of ridding China or corruption. Good with that, I say.

They also told me his wife was making a good will visit to Africa. Is she being a Chinese first lady in the manner of the wife of the U.S. President? I asked the students. (My mother in Canada has heard about China's first lady.)

I also realize I don't spend much time on the Chinese internet, whether it be with foreigners or the locals. I should try to change that.

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. (See below)

  • Ulysses by James Joyce: I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly goes through Joyce's hard-to-read 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 (he completed episode #146 this week), 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 Mark.

  • The Waning of the Middle Ages by Johan Huzinga. Finished. Huzinga, though snooty about the Medieval mind, did make it come alive.

  • Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser. Finished. Flashy goes to Nanjing, Jiangyin, and Peking during the Taiping Rebellion. He becomes the sex slave of the-soon-to-be Iron Lady and Empress Dowager Cixi. A fun and informative novel.

  • The Road to Rome by Hilliare Belloc. I have read Chesterton's buddy before. Father Schall recommends it. The first hundred pages are awesome. I wonder if we can walk to Rome in this day and age with its cars and trucks.

  • The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century by Charles Homer Haskins. Another work recommended by David Warren. I found a PDF copy of this book on There is something to be said for an age that has lots and lots of monasteries – it shows that it is taking the world in its proper measure.

  • University Economics: Elements of Inquiry Third Edition by Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen. I also found a PDF copy of this highly-recommended textbook on The questions the authors ask at the end of each chapter are good. For instance, after the first chapter, the authors ask this head-scratcher: What is nonsensical about the proposition, "A good economic system maximizes the welfare of the maximum number of people"? I have been pondering this question since I first read it. I have a vague or intuitive idea why the statement is nonsense. Explaining why in two sentences, I say: It is like the people who say they want their socioeconomic system to be fair. This leads me to immediately ask what they mean by fair, as the above statement leads me to ask what is good. Furthermore, I can imagine a welfare maximizing system that sees the most disadvantaged in slavery or a state so miserable we can't in good conscience tolerate.

This Week's Don Colacho Quotes

  • 1650 Let us try always to adhere to the losing party, so that we will not have to be ashamed of what the winning party always does.

  • 1651 Being common and customary without being predictable is the secret of good prose.

  • 1671 Genuine thought only discovers its principles at the end. Fake thought works the other way round.

  • 1684 "Finding himself," for modern man, means dissolving himself in any collective entity. I found myself, I can say. I can also say I am dissolving but I hope I am doing so as a reactionary.

The Gospel According to Luke

14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Personally, I don't know anyone who does this.

Well, let me correct that. There are actually a lot of students whose humility puts me in my place. Like anyone with pretensions, I find it disconcerting to meet people who don't have any.

Hilliare Belloc

 'Man,' said the Director of the State, 'man is but the creature of circumstance… If anything, I am just where I am. I didn't ask to be there but I didn't have any strong conviction of where I ought to have been.

David Warren on Canadian Public Schools

For in my humble but unalterable opinion, these public "schools" (the scare quotes are needed) are crushers of the human spirit. No responsible parent should allow a child to be exposed to them. Ditto, no aspiring teacher should work in one, even temporarily, or he will be destroyed. The administrators should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

Here is the link to the article where therein you can find the above quote.

As a graduate of Canadian public schools, I can say that the only two good teachers I can remember having were a Mrs. Bell who was my grade one teacher in Oromocto, New Brunswick, and a Mr Burrie (I am not sure of the spelling) who was my History and English teacher in my final year of high school which was spent in Brandon, Manitoba.

Mrs. Bell was the only teacher I ever had that beat me.

Mr. Burrie, who was dying of leukemia or cancer, had very interesting classes. I got terrible marks in his classes which showed he had some standards.

The rest of my years in school were soul-destroying. About grade seven, I realized that I didn't fit in with the other students. And there were no wise and inspiring teachers to help me steer my way. I ran aground and have spent the years since trying to forget it ever happened.

Daily Entries (A Week in the Life of a Canadian living in Wuxi, China)

Cast of Characters: Andis, Andis's son Tony, the wife of Andis: Jenny, and several Chinese passersby and students.

Monday (the 25th)

  • I don't work today.

  • I got a good copy of The Hobbit on the Internet. Tony watched it in the evening and was quite taken with it.

  • I drank a Tsingtao in a short stubbie bottle. It was delicious.

  • I finished watching Dishonored Lady on my Ipad Mini. It is a great old movie I got from It starred Heddy Lemarr and was made in 1947. I love those old movies. This one dealt with adult themes – Lemarr is a loose woman – but there wasn't a need to have the actors take off their clothes.

Tuesday (the 26th)

  • I work 1300-2100. In the morning, I put on the computer and monitored the torrent download progress.

  • Cold today. I don't know what else to say.

Wednesday (the 27th)

  • I have to make a longer entry today.

  • I work 1000-2100. Rare AKIC readers and visitors (is this what I should call the people who look at the photos I will post?) may be thinking: Don't you normally work 1300-2100 on a Wednesday? Or rather, that is, doesn't your new shift regimen have you working 1300-2100 on a Wednesday? You are correct. I was asked to switch shifts this week by another trainer.

  • I saw myself on the bus yesterday in a video I wasn't expecting. They were talking to a HyLite student in an interview format that was strewn with stock video of our trainers in class. I saw myself doing a English Corner. God, am I thin!

  • Just as I was getting off the bus this morning, I saw the beginning of the Easter video I did in which I was embarrassed by my lack of knowledge of Easter egg decorating knowledge.

  • I got my wife to take photos of Tony & I at bedtime on Monday night. Tony & I were watching a video on the Ipad Mini. While I held the Ipad mini, Tony had his arm around me. You can see photos of that: here and here.

  • My son Tony can print his name.

  • Last night, Tony also brought out the train set pieces and made his own configuration. You can see photos of that here and here.

  • On the way home last night, I listened to the latest Econtalk episode and I have to admit I didn't fully understand what the guest's theory about what went wrong during the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath; and so I did something I had never done before and actually read the transcript of the podcast to see what I had been missing. Like Milton Friedman who blamed the Depression on the fact that the Federal Reserve actually contracted the money supply in the thirties, the guest, who is a market monetarist, say the Fed reacted to the 2008 crisis by tightening monetary policy. This seems contrary to the facts because it seemed that the Fed was doing everything it could it towards loosening monetary policy. However, the guest said that if you looked at the nominal measures and not real measures, the Fed's policy was in fact tight and because of this, the recovery was slower than it had to be. I am skeptical about how much a central bank can affect real economic factors except in a negative way by causing inflation and making money an unreliable benchmark for which to engage in economic activity. The idea of a Fed chairman controlling the levers of the economy seems absurd to me. So I would be in agreement with the guest if he hadn't said that economic shocks and bad government fiscal policy were not major factors in determining how the economy performs. As I listened to the guest, I couldn't help but ask how his talk of monetary policy affected physical facts of culture and skill sets on the ground. The guest was abstract in a way that gives Economists a bad name.

  • Some things I saw this morning: 1) On the way to the bus stop from Casa Kaulins, and after having seen Tony picked up by the van that takes him to the kindergarten, I saw a man washing vegetables in a basin just beside the entrance to his restaurant. I always skirt the area in front of the restaurant because usually it is wet. 2)I then saw an old woman walking her bike through the intersection. She was doing so against a red light which had me wondering why she wasn't riding the bike through the intersection. However, the thing that really struck me about her was her eyes. She was looking intently to her right to see if any cars were coming. 3) I had breakfast at the McDonalds at the corner of Xueqian and Zhongshan Road, kitty corner from Ba Bai Ban. I walked into the room that faces Xueqian road and saw a TV reporter and her cameraman having breakfast. I thought about how I didn't want to be in front of another camera.

  • This afternoon's English Corner topic: Legs.

  • I have just uploaded the latest commercial I have done for the school. You can also see it below this entry.

Thursday (the 28th)

  • It looks like Tony will accompany me on my trip to Shanghai on the 31st and 1st. I want him to see a sight and maybe get him to the Takara TOMY Shanghai store.

  • I work 1300-2100 today. I like the 1300 kickoffs, to borrow an expression from an Englishman I know, because I don't feel rushed in the morning. I can spend some time at the home, reading and looking at the computer.

  • This morning, I finished watching the third episode of the four-part Jesus of Nazareth mini-series that was directed by Franco Zeffirelli in the 1970s. I am quite taken with it. I will keep the series on my hard drive to watch it again in the future. It ain't a watch-once-and-chuck. With a script written by Anthony Burgess and an all-star cast, the series is worth repeated viewings.

  • The weather today is sunny. I didn't wear my my dark blue nylon shell of a jacket.

  • Sights of the day: 1) At the intersection near Casa Kaulins, I saw an old woman pushing a three wheel pick-up motor scooter through an intersection. In the back, lay an old sickly-looking man covered with a dirty wool blanket. 2) After getting off a bus near Nanchang Temple, I walked to school and chanced to see an old man pushing a wheel chair. I wondered if it was his own or somebody else's.

  • Yesterday, I asked the students to tell me the synonym for "possess." Thinking it would be hard for them, I even wrote this on the board for them: _ a v e. They still couldn't figure it out even after I used five sentences with "possess!" "Girls want to possess bags." "Girls want to possess diamond rings." Girls want to possess bags and shoes!"

  • My plans for my upcoming Shanghai trip continue to evolve. I was planning to go Sunday & Monday but it turns out that the person I was to stay with now has to go to Wuxi that day for work. Kind of hard to meet if you are exchanging locations. So, it looks like I am going to go to Shanghai early on Monday and come back in the afternoon.

Friday (the 29th)

  • I worked 1100-2100 this day.

  • I made entries but they weren't saved. Thanks a lot Evernote!

  • I started studying French.

  • I discovered that the Canadian consulate was closed on Monday, April 1st for Easter Monday thus ruining my plans. I discovered, much to my surprise, that the Consulate was open on April 4th which is a holiday in China. So, I decided to go to Shanghai on April 4th.

  • My back was giving me trouble. I would sit for thirty minutes and experience back spasms as I got up. I had to hold onto the desk's edge before I was able to unstiffen and move freely.

  • Every bedtime this week, Tony has asked to watch the Hobbit on my Ipad Mini.

Saturday (the 30th)

  • For whatever it's worth, I work 1000-1800 today.

  • Last night, I had a student who told me his English name was Obama. I immediately told him that was a stupid name to have. Perhaps, I shouldn't have but I did. He was with this student named Arthur – perhaps after the U.S. President Chester Arthur – who all the teachers wished would go away. Whatever his calling is in life, for Arthur it isn't as a speaker of English in a second language.

  • A student told me that his father beat him everyday till he was fourteen. "I wasn't good at school!" the student said when I asked him why. My first thought to the student's revelation was that the beatings hadn't done him any good because he was still a student that teachers wish would not ever come to class again. I then wondered what the mistake was that the parent had made. It couldn't have been the fact of the beatings. There was no doubt that this student deserved to be beaten. The father either probably stopped just when continuing would have borne fruit, or he wasn't beating the kid hard enough.

  • For every student who deserves a beating, there are at least twenty whose feet I should kiss. It is too bad the bad ones have to ruin it for everybody.

  • I asked the students about spanking and if they had been spanked. However, I didn't ask one student. "You were so good as a child that it was your parents who were spanked by you!" I told him.

  • BTW, what is my calling? I wonder. I have suddenly become so advanced in years, I think I have blown it.

  • For an instant last night, I didn't know where Tony was in the apartment. I looked in all the rooms and finally saw him in the master bedroom – the last place I would have expected to find him at that time of night. He was playing with the Ipad – not a surprise. But he had the Ipad plugged into recharger. The little bugger now knows what to do when he has used up all the Ipad's battery power.

  • Andis: "Have you eaten Canadian Food?" Student: "Yes!" Andis (with disbelief): "Really, tell me more about this!" Student: "It was dark!" Andis: "Dark!?!?" Student: "It was dark and the waiters told me the food was Canadian!: Andis: "So you don't know exactly you ate?" Student: "Yes!" Cheeky!!

  • I finished watching the 1977 Jesus of Nazareth mini-series – just in time for Easter.

Sunday (the 31st)

  • Easter Sunday: I don't work.

  • Wuxi's Suntech has gone bankrupt. I remember having to teach a group of their workers a few years back – every Saturday the class was, nine to twelve in the morning-- the only time I had that teaching regimen. I never forget one student telling me how they dealt with customer complaints about their solar panels not working on cloudy. "You are going to have to wait till the sun comes out again." It was like that out at my mother-in-law's home in the countryside where solar panels are used to heat the water. "You are going to have to wait till a sunny day before you can take a bath!"

  • The plan, at the moment of this typing, is that the K gang is going downtown for Tony's drawing class.

  • I woke up at 600 am. I thought it was 700 am. I changed my alarm sounds last night. I didn't realize the Merle Haggard's Mama Tried was my 600 am alarm. It is nice to have an extra hour in the morning to do stuff.

  • On the Ipad Mini, last night, I watched It's Love I am Looking starring Bette Davis, Olivia DeHaviland, and Leslie Howard. It was a comedy with the butler-actor I had seen in the Gay Divorcee. It wasn't a four star movie. The acting didn't hit the right tone. It was overdone which I hate to say, because I have usually been very taken with Leslie Howard.

  • For a while this morning, it seemed that we weren't going to go to the drawing class. Tony and Jenny were lingering in bed and there was no strong desire, it seemed, to get out of bed. If we hadn't gone, it wouldn't have upset me much. The drawing class takes three hours from my day off – those three hours could be spent lingering in bed instead of sitting on a bus and then also at a McDonald's while Tony colors in some pre-printed sheet. Asking Jenny what was her intention with regards to going to the drawing class, she told me that it was up to Tony. If he wanted, we would go. It didn't seemed he wanted to because he was dead as a log when we tried to wake him. But then all of a sudden, he was up and Jenny said he wanted to go to the class. Jenny then had me take Tony while she cleaned the apartment and bought train tickets to get us to Shanghai on Thursday, April 4th.

  • At the drawing/art class, there were but three children, Tony included. It seemed that there were a lot of parents and children who decided to stay in bed.

  • On the bus ride to the drawing class, I had a youngish-looking woman sit beside me and Tony in order to practice her English with me. Welcome to Wuxi! She said. She introduced herself to me as a graduate of Lambton College. She wanted to "make friends with me!" I further learned that she was 32 and that she wasn't married yet which was a worry to her parents. In reaction to my concern, she told me that she did have a boyfriend, and that she was hoping to have three children. Her talking to me attracted an audience and I had another woman try to practice her English on me – she was studying it at another school, unfortunately. I find these conversations awkward. The people are so earnest to talk but I don't know what to say to them. I would have rather continued listening to my Ipod – I am ashamed to admit. John Derbyshire was on a roll in the latest episode of Radio Derb. He did singing duet with the first lady of China – Mrs. Xi Jing Ping.

  • After art class, Tony & I went to the Nanchang Temple Market. I took a lot of photos of Tony that you can view them here and here.

  • At the Nanchang Book Market, we wandered to second floor spot which afforded us a bird's eye view of the walkways below, and allowed us to take photos of each other.

  • Jenny was able to get us train tickets; so we can go to Shanghai on April 4th!

  • I took Tony to the Nanchang KFC. I contemplated the utter soullessness of the place as Tony munched on some wings. I then thought of the fact that it was Easter and recalled the final scenes from the Jesus of Nazareth mini-series I had watched on Saturday night.

  • We then went to The Grandma's Restaurant in Nanchang. Rare readers may know that I have praised The Grandma's at Ba Bai Ban. This was our first time to try out the Nanchang The Grandma's. The food was the same but the wait, which are notoriously long at the Ba Bai Ban The Grandma's, was much shorter. But the time Jenny was able to join us, food had been served to us.

  • Finished at The Grandma's, we decided to walk to the #602 bus stop which is on the other side of downtown Wuxi by Chongan Market. Jenny worried about the length of the walk but I said it would be no problem. My right leg has been troubling me the past year and I have felt arthritic-like pain in my thigh, knee and ankles making me need to sit down on occasion. As we approached the bus stop, my right leg fell felt like it was asleep. After sitting on the bus for forty minutes, the leg was much better and I walked home with no problems.

  • Along the way to the bus stop, Jenny bought Tony a toy gun that he wanted. Be it ever so politically incorrect, I am glad to say she did so. Press the trigger on the toy, and a recording of machine-gun burst plays and lights flash. Tony played with his new toy as we walked to the bus stop. Along the way, this little boy, about Tony's age, was sitting in a car's back seat and playing with a toy pistol. He saw Tony and Tony saw him, and they playfully exchanged gun fire. I laughed at the sight, as did a male street sweeper who smiled at me. That's just what kids do.

  • With a bad back and a sore right leg, I am becoming very aware of my mortality.

  • I have heard a few people around me express concern about North Korea proclaiming they were in a state of war with South Korea. When I first heard this, I did visit the Internet to see what was happening, and came away feeling it was hype.

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