Sunday, April 7, 2013

Blog Entry for April 1 to April 7, 2013

Gratitude: I am thankful for having been able to walk for so long as I have in this life without having had pain. When bad things happen in life, for instance the death of a loved one or the end of a good stretch of living, one should be thankful for all that came before. As you will read below, I have complaints to make about my right leg.
Acknowledgment: I am becoming old & fusty in my lower-beginner old age.
Request: I hope that the powers that be can get me an adapter for my Ipad Mini that I can use to plug into the television. Even better would be one of those Apple TV units – they can connect the Ipad to the television wirelessly. And I want all those I care about in my life to do well; and I also want those in my life who I don't care for to get their shit together. I would love to see people turn over new leaves.

The AKIC Week in Brief: Thursday was Tomb Sweeping day, so Andis, your parenthetically hetreoredactically reactionary but genial blogger, and his son Tony went to Shanghai. For Andis, it was a day to get his passport renewed and spend some time with the eleventh greatest Englishman of all time; for Tony, Thursday will be forever known as Train Day (Andis has made a video to commemorate the day.). Beside that, Andis worked and began to learn about programming in Python this week. He wondered , like many others, if he should take the latest threats from the Norks seriously. The trip to Shanghai also put him in a morose mood for the rest of the week of the 1st to the 7th, whether in the anticipation or the aftermath. You can read more about his moroseness somewhere later in this entry.

I'm in China! As I will mention again below, I watched this 1975 Chicom propaganda flick: Breaking with Old Ideas. I told the students in a beginner level movie salon about the film and showed a scene from it using my Ipad. I couldn't get the students to understand what I meant when I said I found the film interesting. They seemed to think that by watching the film and admitting I was fascinated by the film that I was, somehow, a foreigner taken in by Mao Tse-Tung thought.

What other Chinese things have I experienced?

What thoughts do I have on the passing Chinese scene?

I don't have any on both counts. I have lived in Wuxi for over eight years – longer than I have lived in Brandon, Winnipeg Fort Garry, Winnipeg Fort Rouge, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Clearbrook, Oromocto, Shilo, Valcartier and Val Belair. So, pardon me if Wuxi & China seem like everyday things to me.

I'm Canadian I have been listening to Don Cherry's Coaches Corner via podcast. I was saddened to hear of the death of Ralph Klein who was probably one of the greatest provincial premiers Canada has ever had. I shudder at the prospect of Justin Trudeau being the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I like to Read!
Here is what I am 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 #147 this week), I am getting ahead him as far as reading the book. I will be finished it, I figure, in a year.
  • The Holy Bible King James Version. The Gospels According to Saint Mark.
  • The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc. Last week, I mistakenly said the title was the Road to Rome; and I also misspelled the author's name. The Path is a great book that rambles into some unexpected but yet interesting subjects. I have been highlighting so much in the book that I wonder if I have lost any powers of discrimination I might have had. Like Don Colacho and David Warren, I will have a section of passages from the book that I thought I could put in this blog because I like them so much.
  • The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century by Charles Homer Haskins. I am reading this on the recommendation of David Warren. The Middle Ages were not so simple a time as I had been lead to believe.
  • University Economics: Elements of Inquiry Third Edition by Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen. It end-of-chapter questions force one to think so as to be able to explain one's thought to other people. For instance: “All goods or goals are incompatible. And at the same time they are compatible.” Can you make sense of that? It is paradoxical, and yet I would say that is why it makes sense. I think of Chesterton and his constant use of paradox as an antidote to the hyper-rational thoughts of his day. The way I understand him, I would say that our existence is a grand mystery that the human mind is incapable of fully grasping and would go insane trying to. If you think of economics as a moral philosophy, you will see that it is really a tool to show us what happens when we try to deal with the paradoxes and the tradeoffs of life. Sp, you can see my thoughts on the subject are very clear.

This Week's Don Colacho Quotes
  • 1738 The man who says he is respectful of all ideas is admitting that he is ready to give up. So you can't be always be agreeable.
  • 1744 Ethical rules vary; honor does not change. A man is noble if he prefers to fail rather than to debase the tools of his triumph. In the modern age, it seems a lot of famous people spend the latter part of their lives basking in the limelight of things they had done earlier in their lives. It seems such a waste to read these things in people's biographies. You want to see their lives be dramas right to the end.
  • 1753 Reducing another’s thought to its supposed motives prevents us from understanding it. Leftists and Self-named Middle-of-the-Roaders (the same people actually) are so guilty of this.
  • Part of 1761: A culture, in fact, does not perish by absorbing exotic elements, but rather by being assimilated and spread by foreign minds.
  • 1763 The surest ways of winning are more disastrous than any defeat.
  • 1767 The man who is disrespectful in order to demonstrate his equality certifies his inferiority.

Hilaire Belloc Quotes from the Path to Rome
  • Of all the corrupting effects of wealth there is none worse than this, that it makes the wealthy (and their parasites) think in some way divine, or at least a lovely character of the mind, what is in truth nothing but their power of luxurious living. Heaven keep us all from great riches--I mean from very great riches...
  • In sleep there is something diminishes us. I have noticed that sleeps diminish Chinese students into thinking sleeping is a hobby.
  • you cannot relieve the pain in one limb without driving it into some other… As Belloc walks to Rome, he complains of pain in one of his knees (as well as having to deal with someone called LECTOR). He gets some balm in one of the towns he passes through to rub on the legs. He says it helps. His complaints of leg pain provide some comfort to me as I am thinking I have got arthritis in my right leg.
  • men talk of finding the Middle Ages here or there, I for my part never find it, save where there has been democracy to preserve it. David Warren must surely have come across this quote.
  • Nothing seemed properly to interest or to concern me, and not till evening was I visited by any muse. It is nice to see that a real writer like Belloc has the same complaints about times when there seems nothing to write about that I have as a mere blogger.
  • if a man has English thoroughly he can wander over a great part of the world familiarly… I have to express my gratitude to the power that is for my good fortune to have been raised a native English speaker.
  • been a subjective illusion) seemed to me common and worthless people, and sad into the bargain. Belloc, was in a morose mood when he recorded this thought. It was seeing tourists or some other modern manifestation of people that caused him to think it. A less honest person would probably have struck the thought from the record. I feel that way a lot, but not so much about the locals, but by the foreigners I see. On Thursday, when I saw foreigners, in Shanghai, jogging or wearing helmets and/or tight nylon cycling clothes while clutching onto to their mountain bicycles, I was revolted.
  • they certainly were not laughing at me; at any rate, I thought they were, and moved by a sudden… They, in the passage, were locals and he was moved by a sudden spasm of anger at them to rile a horse. I too have had the suspicious feeling I was being laughed at by many a local accompanied by my then experiencing a spasmodic angry desire to latch out at them. Thankfully, I have never acted on it except in a blubbering manner.

A Quote from George Jonas

Jonas is another Canadian columnist, of conservative persuasion that I read all the time. This was the conclusion of one of his recent columns:

It's the hyperactive few, the busybodies, the centre-stage seeking missiles, who provide the connecting tissue between the Fuhrers, caudillos, generalissimos, commissars, nuclear ayatollahs and the masses. They cause, or at least transmit, riots, wars, famines, and pestilence. In truly caring societies, political activists would be genetically identified, tagged and branded prominently at birth -- so the rest of us would be able to ignore them when they tried to tell us what do.

An Anecdote from David Warren
I cut and pasted the following from this blog entry.

I asked him [Kildare] once what he’d done for a living when he first washed up in Canada (around 1953). He’d found a job teaching in some “godforsaken” two-room schoolhouse in northern Ontario, beyond Sudbury I think. He wasn’t at all suited to it, & his students were soon out of control. But the old man commanding the other classroom had all his charges smartly in order, & Kildare often wondered how that was done. He could never meet this colleague, who disappeared instantly at the end of each school day; till finally he spotted him in the town’s hotel bar. It turned out the man was an alcoholic, & could have been found any evening in there.

Searching for some way to endear himself to this frosty superior, young Kildare confessed that he had problems with class discipline, & had been deeply impressed by the punctiliously correct behaviour of every pupil in the other room.

How do you do it? How do you get them to behave?”

I hate the little bastards. And they know it.”


Maybe, I have been wrong to criticize the alcoholics that inhabit my so-called profession. LECTOR: What do you mean by so-called profession?!? ANDIS: That is a dig against me; not so much against the profession. LECTOR: What about the alcoholic comment. ANDIS: I don't disavow that for a second.

And a lot of students, especially the teenage ones, are bastards. Of that, there can be no doubt.

Did I have any teachers who were alcoholics? I am sure my Grade 12 Physics teacher had to have been. He was Scottish and his face was red in the manner of a constant drinker. I also remember once seeing the Principal of a school I attended in Shilo, Manitoba sitting by himself in a corner of a stripper bar in Brandon, Manitoba – that doesn't really mean that he was an alcoholic, but apropos of nothing at all, I thought I would mention it. LECTOR (who is LECTOR? Look below): What were you doing in a stripper bar? ANDIS: I wish you hadn't asked. I wouldn't go anymore I will say. Youthful indiscretions.....

Here is another clip from this Warren blog entry that will stick in my mind:  A lot of people didn’t like him, he was a fusty old dog. This is just why I loved him....

Daily Entries (A Week in the Life of a Canadian living in Wuxi, China)
Cast of Characters: Andis writing about himself in the first and third person, Andis's Mom, Andis's son Tony, the wife of Andis: Jenny, Lector, Andis's Ipad Mini, Paul: the eleventh greatest Englishman of all time, Lector, foreigners in China, and several Chinese passersby and students.

Monday (the 1st)
  • April Fool's Day. I didn't work. I wasn't party to any pranks. My wife, however, got a prank message on her Iphone that we briefly fell for. Someone sent her a message saying they had seen her on Taobao – the popular Chinese Internet shopping site. For about ten minutes, we wondered who had snatched photos of her till we realized it was a joke.
  • I phoned my Mom in the morning to wish her a happy Easter. In Brandon, Manitoba, where she lives, the temperature was minus five and was going to go down another ten degrees over night. With a lot of snow on the ground there as well, there are worries that there will be flooding. There is no way that nature is going to gradually melt the snow. It is all going to melt at once.
  • I have introduced a new character into my blog entries: LECTOR. LECTOR can speak for himself. LECTOR: How do you know I won't speak for my herself? ANDIS: Well. Maybe you will speak for your female self. But you the sort that has thoughts that wouldn't be thought by the fairer sex. LECTOR: How dare you presume I am a gentlemen! ANDIS: Don't be an ass! LECTOR: Don't count on it! ANDIS: I won't!
  • Jenny & Andis went downtown so Andis could get his haircut for his passport photo. Here is what he looked like before & after. LECTOR: Why wouldn't anyone want to look at your self-indulgent photos?
  • I watched a documentary about the RFK assassination. It was silly. If it was to be believed, there was a girl in a polka-dot dress who fled the scene of the assassination and told a person as she was fleeing that she and her companion had killed RFK. It also suggested that Sirhan Sirhan may have been a Manchurian candidate who was programmed to kill the presidential candidate Kennedy by the CIA.
  • Andis's back continued to bother him. Anytime he rose from a sitting position, his back would scream in pain! Andis would clutch at the desk till the stiffness disappeared.
  • Tony insisted on playing with the Ipad Mini. Dad gave it to him but there was only 20 percent power remaining and Tony got upset.
  • Apple must be trying to kill podcasting. IOS 6.1.3 has made its podcast app much less user-friendly. The app doesn't let the user know how much time has been played and is left in the podcast he is listening to. [I have to take that all back. On Thursday, the eleventh greatest Englishman of all-time showed me how I could get that information. Instead of swiping up, I now had to tap below a heading to get the information]

Tuesday (the 2nd)

Wednesday (the 3rd)
  • I have noticed that Tuesday has become a slow blogging day for me. Why is this? Is this because nothing happens to me on a Tuesday? It may well be that going back to work focuses my mind on things other than my blogging. For instance, yesterday, I had to prepare for my VIP class and I had to make sure I did my daily requirement of flashcard practice.
  • I got my passport photos taken today. My train leaves tomorrow at 700 am, and I just want to get to the consulate, drop off my application, and get on with the rest of the day in Shanghai. I will be visiting the apartment of the 11th greatest Englishman of all time.
  • I had to insist that the studio write the date and its address on the back of one of the photos they took for me. God! I hope the photos pass muster at the consulate!
  • I work 1300 to 2100 today.

Thursday (the 4th)
  • Funny how when you are in the train station, you feel like you have always been in the train station.  The time you were in the station last was but yesterday -- not, the year or so that your calendar says it was.
  • I don't work today.

Friday (the 5th)
  • Yesterday, Tony & Dad went to Shanghai. It was the tomb sweeping holiday in China and yet the Canadian consulate was open; and that was why they went and were able to together go to Shanghai on a Thursday.
  • Dad works 1100-2100 today. It is a three day holiday for most Chinese. That is, they get Thursday, Friday & Saturday off. However, they have to go back to work on Sunday which to this western mind means they don't really get a holiday at all, but a reshuffling of their days off.
  • For Tony, yesterday, April 4th 2013, will always be remembered as train day. He rode a fast train from Wuxi to Shanghai in the morning, he rode a lot of subway lines in Shanghai, He rode the mag life fast train that to the Pudong Airport & back, and his Dad, yours truly, bought him a train toy.
  • Dad seemed to have a smooth time of it at the Canadian consulate. He was the first there and the first to get served. There were no problems with his paperwork or photos. He should have his new passport on April 25th – just in time to get his Visa renewed. Dad's current visa expires on May 7th.
  • Dad made some good decisions the day before to ensure his passport application went smoothly. 1) He had his passport photos taken in Wuxi. 2) He put the address of the consulate on the Ipod. These were good decisions because it turned out that the Consulate was in a new building. Unlike the old consulate which was in the midst of a mall where there was a photograph studio. The new consulate was in a characterless glass office building. It wouldn't have been a good day to scout out the location of a photographic studio.
  • It was a lot of fortunate timing during the day as well for the K boys. In the morning, attempts to phone a taxi were for naught as the taxi's phone line was busy. So Dad & Tony walked on the street towards the bus stop because if worse came to worse, they would have to take the bus to the train station. But just as they got out of the apartment complex and on the street, a taxi drove by and they were able to flag it down. Doing the trains in Shanghai, the K boys always seem to get to a subway station just as a train was loading up with passengers.
  • One thing, Andis will have to learn next time he takes the taxi to the train station is to say the exact name of the station to the taxi driver. Saying just train station in Chinese doesn't cut it with the drivers anymore because there are three stations in Wuxi now to choose from. Yesterday, the taxi driver asked him which station he wanted to go to, and he had to phone his wife to tell him. Andis believes he has to tell the driver “fast train station.”
  • Andis said sometime during the day that Tony's impression of Shanghai would be that it was all subway tunnels.
  • Andis had more sightings of foreigners in one day of visiting Shanghai than he probably had in six months of living in Wuxi.
  • Andis will now write about himself in the first person for the rest of April 5th.
  • How did parents keep children occupied on trips before the Ipad? I shudder to imagine what they had to do.
  • I don't know if Tony likes riding the subway. At every stop he kept asking and was even insisting that we get off. I spend a lot of time telling him to wait. There was a trip we took that was about six stops long and he became very incorrigible. He was also plugging his ears when the subway was going along a curve causing a loud grinding noise.
  • I had to repeat a student – or in other words, I had to fail her. She wasn't willing to speak. She is in the school for a while – she won't go away, so I have to hope she can change her approach.
  • It's my sister's birthday tomorrow. I just sent her an email.
  • My friend HM is recovering from his recent stroke. He can send emails but it isn't easy for him, I am afraid. Thinking of this gives me something to express gratitude about. (LECTOR: End the sentence with a proposition!) Walking and using our hands are wonderful things – more wonderful that all the things that men can invent for themselves to keep their hands occupied with.
  • Yesterday, I did a lot of walking in Shanghai. As I got to the train station, my right leg fell asleep again and I was so thankful to be able to sit the train waiting room. I was able to walk onto the train pain-free.
  • In the train waiting room, I saw a few older men sleeping in the waiting room. Lord knows, where they came from, what they were doing, and where they were going to. Earlier in the day, I had spent time in a Starbucks in the Pudong District of China. I saw foreigners pushing their children about in prams that were the Cadillacs of their irk. From swankiness to poverty.
  • Last night, I finished watching a film I put on the Ipad (I found it at archive. Org) called Breaking with Old Ideas – it was a Chicom propaganda film put out in December 1975. The production values were not bad. The film employed all sorts of closeups and pans, had lots of extras, clever editing, a soundtrack, and location shots. It could easily have been made at a Hollywood studio. However, it was the worst sort of Maoist propaganda. I watched it with morbid fascination, as it complained of Capitalism, bourgeois city values, wrong ideas and profit-making; and the the same time extolled the thought of Chairman Mao, the lower and lower middle peasant class, living in the countryside, self-criticisms,making a socialist countryside, and being a good Communist. The plot revolves a veteran of the war of resistance against Japan, being made the principal of a countryside farm college. His enemies are the long-established bourgeois educators who want peasants to pass entry exams to get into college. In one sub-plot, a student is exposed for having actually charged peasants for castrating their pigs – a thoroughly capitalistic action.
  • I have to thank the eleventh greatest Englishman of all-time for serving as our guide and host yesterday. He lead around Tony & I around Shanghai taking us through the subway system to get to his home in the Pudong area. Paul took Tony & I to the site of the Takara TOMY offices (it wasn't a store as I thought it was, and it was closed.), the mag lift, the Pudong area, and his apartment. I quite appreciated being feed some Crown Royal.
  • I can't decide what to have for supper. Should I have chicken from Dico's, cafeteria-style food from 7 plus 7, or the usual fare from McDonalds?
  • LECTOR: You are really pathetic! You really are!
  • I went to McDonalds!
  • LECTOR: That was predictable.

Saturday (the 6th)
  • It was my sister's birthday today or yesterday. I have always been mixed up about whether her birthday is on the 5th or 6th of April.
  • I work 1000-1800 today.
  • It was peeing down rain last night which I didn't like. But for me, it meant fewer people taking the #635 bus home so I easily got a seat. So there was a compensating factor.
  • Andis: I like beer. You like beer. Join these two sentences together using also, as well, or too. Student: I like beer and you as well. I wrote the student's sentence on the board and then I realized what was wrong with it.
  • LECTOR: That's all you have to say for yourself today? That is pathetic! Perhaps something happened that you didn't want to talk about. ANDIS: I can't argue with what you say. And I will add one thing. The thing I don't want to talk about is work. LECTOR: Why? ANDIS: It is boring to talk about it. It would be like writing lines. LECTOR: Lines? ANDIS: You know! When you were in school, the teacher would punish you by making you do lines. LECTOR: I see what you mean! ANDIS: Now the question is will anyone else understand? LECTOR: Hey! That should have been my line! ANDIS: Oops-si-daisy!!

Sunday (the 7th)
  • I don't work today, but my son Tony goes to school. As I may have said earlier in this entry, this tomb-sweeping holiday really isn't a holiday for many Chinese; it is instead a re-arranging of days off. To make up for the holiday they were given, many workers and students have to go to work or school on Sunday – their next day off maybe being Saturday the 13th.
  • It is a Sunday that feels like a Monday.
  • I have another pet project to work on. Beside learning Chinese, learning French, studying an Economics textbook, reading at least two books a week, making this blog entry, being a husband and being a father, I am going to try my hand at learning the Python computer language. I have been generously provided textbooks by the eleventh greatest Englishman of all time.
  • Jenny has been baking pizza this week.
  • In Tournament #9, the final four have been determined. Team W, the Tournament #8 champion will play Team X in one of the semifinals. Team C2 & Team D2, both “expansion” teams will fight for the other berth in the final. I will be cheering for team W. If by chance, Team W loses to Team X, I will cheer for Team X in the final. LECTOR: ?????????? ANDIS: I will ignore that. This is something I do and I have done ever since I was so high.
  • One of things I would like to do with Python is make an interactive program that allows me to play the tournament without paper and my Ipod Touch.
  • I would also like to make some English learning software. But that is a much bigger project.
  • Tony is absolutely insistent that we, that be Jenny and I, don't take apart the toy train track he set up last night.
  • LECTOR: 你是哪里人?ANDIS: I am Canadian. LECTOR: 你的英文好不好?ANDISNot very good at all, I'd say.
  • Till April 25th or thereabouts, I have no passport. I am pretty certain, I will get my new one about that time. And I will need it then because my Visa expires on May 7th. My now old Canadian passport was set to expire on the 16th of June: Bloomday, 2013.
  • If my wife gets up, we will be going to the Jin Ling Hotel for a buffet lunch.
  • I have a lot of stray thoughts from the earlier week that I will put here in last daily entry. I mentioned in the week summary, that I was morose for most of the week because of my trip to Shanghai. That is, I was morose the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and the 7th, and I can say that I was quite happy on the 4th. All that shows is that you pay for happy moments with sadness. I wouldn't live anyone's life but mine, thank you very much.
  • My wife did eventually get up and so we did go the Jinling Hotel for a lunch Buffet. We had a good fill, as I like to call a big meal, and enjoyed the sunny weather as we took the bus to and fro.
  • I saw a foreigner at the Jinling Buffet. He had tattoos on his biceps and spiked hair. I think he was southern European. Thinking of the Europeans Belloc encountered in the Path to Rome, I can only feel sad at what Europe and Europeans appeared to have reverted to being Barbarians. I am full of shame at the realization that once in my life I actually made serious efforts to be hip.
  • I may have been wrong in my thinking the locals have been screwed out of a day off for the Tomb Sweeping holiday. Look at the following:
  • The X's represent days of work. The O's represent days off. #1 is the holiday scenario I had where I got Thursday and my normal days off. #2 is the scenario where the locals got the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off, but had to work Sunday. Over two weeks, each of us gets the same number of days off. The only benefit I get is not having to work six days in a row. LECTOR: You beanpole dummy! You should have thought of that before you spouted off to the locals about it!
  • Tony was kissed me on two occasions during Train Day. Both times, he was kissing my hand as we walked to a train station.
  • At one instance on Train day, Tony was walking between his father & the eleventh greatest Englishman of all-time. Holding onto to Dad's hand, he reached out to grab the Englishman's hand as well. It was an interesting gesture.
  • The Englishman bought Andis & Tony lunch at a restaurant called the Blue Frog. Andis stole one of their beer coasters. Andis later bought Tony a toy train, Harold the Engine from the Thomas & Friends series. LECTOR: Thief! Shame on you! And why did you buy Tony another toy? You have said he has enough already!
  • Funny that I took a photo of Tony standing near a Rhino in Shanghai. I also have taken photos of Tony standing near a Rhino at a park near Casa K: the Wu Culture Park, in fact.
  • The eternal rite! The baseball season has started again. I was surprised to learn that the Houston Astros are now in the American League. With the National and American leagues now having fifteen teams, it means that there must be an inter-league game being played every day. The novelty of inter-league play has worn off and I still loathe what the wildcard has done to pennant races. As soon as the MLB stopped being conservative, and tried to emulate the NFL, it lost something, perhaps its soul.
  • I have started watching Fiddler on the Roof. If I was a rich man! Na na na na na na na na, nah! All day long I what-a what-a what, yab a dabba, yab a dabba, do! Oh! If I was a rich man!
  • Tournament #9: Team W will play Team C2 in the Tournament #9 championship game. Team W defeated Team X 4-2 in its semifinal game. Team C2 defeated Team D2 6-0 in the other semifinal. Team W, which goes into the final with a record of 7-4-1, becomes the first team to ever make a second appearance in the Tournament Championship game – they won the Tournament #8 championship game. If they can beat Team C2, who will go into the final with a 7-3-1 record, Team W will win a second consecutive tournament championship – a feat that would surpass, in everyone's estimation, Team D's consecutive League championships in Tournaments #5 and #6.
  • My son Tony lost his first tooth today!

1 comment:

Col Charlie Dont-surf Redux said...

I read your entries.

And I noticed the different format, its fine.

All the guys down at GAMBAYS like it too. They say that it takes a little longer for them to read, but that means they can have another 2 bottles of T'tao as they read!