Gratitude: Thanks to the forty or so people who take a look at my weekly blog entries. I am even more thankful to the few who probably read my entries to the very end. You have endured more than a survivor – that is the TV show, not the other survivors. [There is a reference to an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm]
Acknowledgment: As you can see, I have done my acknowledgment in the gratitude section. I have no readers.
Request: Make comments! I don't care if you have anything to say. I would just like you to think of the comment section at the end of this entry as a visitor sign-in book.
The AKIC Week in Brief
Nothing happened to AKIC. A hero of AKIC, Margaret Thatcher (the鐵夫人 in Chinese) passed away – AKIC was rather low key about it. Like John Derbyshire, AKIC adored Maggie. Other than that, I got my new passport on Saturday, and Friday night, I had a nose-bleeding episode that scared the heck out of my wife.
A commercial with AKIC in it was played constantly on the bus TV Andis was a celebrity of sorts without any of the privileges.
My very very rare readers may notice that I have decided to somewhat change the format of my weekly blog entry.
About Me (Andis Kaulins)
I in in China!
I live in Jiangsu Province in Wuxi, a small city of 4 million (or so I have been told) that is a two-hour car ride and now, a forty-minute fast train ride from Shanghai.
I am Canadian!
So, I listen to podcasts by Charles Adler, Rex Murphy, and Don Cherry.
However, I don't share the hatred of many Canadians for the Americans. No country in the world has had better neighbors. With apologies to the English, but No country has done more good for the world. The way I see it, Americans are today's Jews. When I do hear the typical anti-American spout off, I can't help but be reminded of Nazis talking about the Jews. With vindictive-righteousness, they spout off about American flaws. Why is it they won't stick a fence-post up their ass when they talk about the flaws of other countries – I suppose they think the flaws of non-Americans are really America's fault.
Like a true Canadian, I very much look like a boring old white guy from anywhere in the world, except that I sometimes wear a Winnipeg Jets cap.
I like to Read!
Here is what I am reading and what I have read, 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 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 #148 this week), I am getting ahead Delaney as far as reading the book. I will be finished it, I figure, in a year.
The Holy Bible King James Version . The Gospel According to Saint Mark. Finished. I started the Gospel According to Saint John.
The Path to Rome by Hilaire Belloc. Finished. It was a great read. Belloc mixes travel log with philosophic, political, and religious thought. He introduces an imaginary character, Lector, with whom he has verbal jousts. LECTOR, my version that is, was introduced to this blog last week.
The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century by Charles Homer Haskins . Finished. I found and read this book after having heard about on David Warren's blog. It was dry at spots but contained many insights about history.
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.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Finished. I heard of the story. I had heard of the character Ichabob Crane, but I never read the story. It is well-written and its ending is very ambiguous and thought-provoking.
The Hills & The Sea by Hilaire Belloc. I liked The Path to Rome so much that I decided to read another Belloc Book - I have ten of them on my Ipad. I choose this one because Father Schall mentioned it in one of his essays (which I read daily on my dotdotdot app).
The Inquisition / A Critical and Historical Study of the Coercive Power of the Church by E. Vacandard. Finished. I read it after coming upon a reference to it to the book, I finished reading this week, by Charles Homer Haskins. The Inquisition has given the Catholic Church a bad name, and it is an easy thing to pick up and hit Catholics with. No one in good conscience could defend it. But other great peoples, the Germans and the Chinese, have had their moments of madness, only just recently. The Church is a human institution and unfortunately it succumbs, in its weakness, to the times it is part of. For as the author of this study of the Inquisition says: To comprehend it [The Inquisition] we must picture to ourselves a stage of civilization in many respects wholly unlike our own. Passions were fiercer, convictions stronger, virtues and vices more exaggerated, than in our colder and self-contained time.
I like to make videos
I like to cut and paste quotes that I find interesting:
This Week's Don Colacho Quotes:
1794 A decent man is one who makes demands upon himself that the circumstances do not make upon him.
1798 The specialist, in the social sciences, strives above all to quantify the obvious.
1806 The quality of an intelligence depends less on what it understands than on what makes it smile. [What makes me smile? Hmm. Basically, I am a humorless fellow. I only can smile in retrospect at some of the things I have overheard.]
1809 The fool exclaims that we are denying the problem when we show the falsity of his favorite solution. [How apt a thought when apparently the US Senate was passing some sort of gun control legislation.]
1820 The pleasant book does not attract the fool unless a pedantic interpretation vouches for it.
1821 Modern man deafens himself with music in order not to hear himself. [True. I wonder what Colacho would have thought of podcasts.]
1821 Modern man deafens himself with music in order not to hear himself. [True. I wonder what Colacho would have thought of podcasts.]
Quotes from Hilaire Belloc:
All you that feel youth slipping past you and that are desolate at the approach of age, be merry; it is not what it looks like from in front and from outside. There is a glory in all completion, and all good endings are but shining transitions. There will come a sharp moment of revelation when you shall bless the effect of time. [I feel the youth slipping past me. I am waiting for that sharp moment of revelation.]
Indeed, the whole of this strange hive of mountain men was a mixture—ignorance, sharp modernity, utter reclusion: barbaric, Christian; ruinous and enduring things. I cut-and-paste this quote because of the punctuation. [In this sentence, Belloc uses a dash, a colon, a semi-colon, and a comma. I admit that I am not consistent in the uses of the punctuation marks. The only thing, I know about their use is that are no set rules, and those who do have set rules disagree with others who have set rules, and their arguments for their set rules all seem to make sense to me.]
Everybody knows that one can increase what one has of knowledge or of any other possession by going outwards and outwards; but what is also true, and what people know less, is that one can increase it by going inwards and inwards. There is no goal to either of these directions, nor any term to your advantage as you travel in them. [I can't afford to go outwards in my explorations so I have no choice but to go inwards and inwards and inwards...]
I can't remember where I read this one:
Self Satisfaction is darkness. [Nothing I can add to this except to say it is so true. And having so little reason to feel self-satisfaction, I live in the land of 24 hour sun.]
Politically, I am Conservative
Maggie Thatcher R.I.P. I found out about her death when I was downloading podcasts on my Ipod. Coffee and Markets latest podcast was titled the passing of the Iron Lady. You either loved her and were intelligent or you hated her and were a rank moron. I grew and matured to love her. I thought she was one of the greatest politicians of my lifetime. You can judge the worthiness of a politician by the virulence with which the are hated by the Left. She was hated by the right people. Maggie hit grand slams or had 100 run innings. It is hard not for me to love her.
I don't get out much
On my work days, I take an hour-long bus ride to work in the downtown, and a longer ride back home in the evening. On my days off, I may take the bus downtown, but I am more than likely to spend my time in my apartment playing on Ipad or on the computer.
I teach English
I don't really want to talk about it though. However, I make some brief allusions to it in my diary.
I like to keep a diary
Its title should be: A Week in the Life of Wuxi, China's Most Boring White Guy
The Diary's Characters:
Andis (writing in the first person)
Andis (writing about himself in the third person)
LECTOR: Andis's imagined critic and occasional combatant.
Jenny: Andis's harshest critic. She is also his wife.
Tony: Andis's son.
The Chinese: students or passersby.
Monday (the 8th)
I see a funeral procession pass below our apartment. I took a video. Ask not for who the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. [LECTOR: So predictable. Are you really going to put a video of someone else's funeral on the Internet? Andis: Why not? The people are far enough away that you can't make them out. And besides, I am sure you can say it is of sociological interest. LECTOR: A thin rationalization if you ask me.]
I finished watching the Fiddler on the Roof. A good flick, in my humble opinion. It so touched me, I had tears come to my eyes. [LECTOR: Hah!! Andis: It did you know! LECTOR: Still, the entry is pathetic.]
Jenny & I go to the Taiwanese Restaurant for lunch. We go to buy drinks from the small Ma&Pa shop along the way. Just before entering, I could hear loud arguing voices. Passing through the entrance door, I saw two security guards. The woman of the Ma&Pa shop, standing behind her register, was red-faced as this middle-aged and swarthy man, that she was obviously having a disagreement with, looked to be pleading his case to the guards. Customers looked on with bemusement but the woman continued to serve. Her husband sitting at a desk, where he was on the computer, was adding to his wife's arguments when he could. Jenny & I went to the shelves to find our drinks. Catching the eye of the shop proprietors – they are my favorite people in the complex -- I gave them a sympathetic glance. As soon as we left the shop, I asked Jenny was the hubbub was about. The man had been apparently bitten by one the store's two puppies.
I later went to the local Tesco to do some shopping. At the intersection near Casa K, walking with towards the green pedestrian traffic signal, I was cut off first, by a bus making a left turn and then, a car making a right turn. If it hadn't been so sunny, I would have been madder than I was.
The Tournament Nine Championship game has been completed. I won't tell you who won till I have made the video and put it somewhere on the Internet. [LECTOR: What the hell is Tournament #9? Andis: Ah! It is just something that I do].
It took me about 24 hours to upload this video to the Internet. You better goddam watch it if you know what's good for ya! [LECTOR: Why would anyone want to watch another video from your pointless life? Andis: Good question.]
I have written some Python programs. Simple ones, mind you! But it is a start. [Andis: It is because of working with Python, that I am using these square brackets. LECTOR: Oh.]
Tuesday (the 9th)
I work 1300-2100. The start of the work week. What fresh horrors await me?
The new of Maggie's death was on the Bus TV this morning. They did a fairly long segment on her. An Englishman at work says that even in death Maggie was divisive as those who didn't like her called her a tyrant and all sorts of other nasty things upon hearing of her passing away. [LECTOR: That bitch took milk from school children! Andis: I never had a school give me free milk. That was my family's responsibility. LECTOR: Well. Some people aren't so fortunate as to have parents who can afford to give them milk. Andis: Well. Those situations can be dealt with on an individual basis. I think the free milk thing was a racket for the milk man to supply milk at government prices. Maggie did the decent thing and put a stop to it. If a school is spending more money on milk than books, something is not right.]
I have a class at 300 pm about joking with three students. Humor classes are hard to teach. The students don't understand your jokes. The jokes they tell you don't seem funny either.
I will make this blog entry in a different way this week. I will write in Evernote instead of in a text file which I then save to Evernote. Too often, the file wasn't being synched with the Internetherworld, and I would go home to find some blogging missing.
Wednesday (the 10th)
Lunch Money Day. I work 1300-2100.
I come to work and get news from a colleague that North Korea had launched a missile at, possibly, Japan. I have seen no confirmation of this on the Internet. Till hearing the news, I had been concerning myself with reaction to Maggie's death – the best word on about her, in my opinion, came from David Warren.
Not a good time for me to be in China without a passport. [LECTOR: Why? Andis: What happens if war occurs in the Korean peninsula.]
Working with Python, on my old Compaq laptop at school, I had trouble double-clicking on a file in order to get it to work. This was not a problem on my newer laptop which I had at home as I brought my files made at school to home.
Last night, I had a student tell me I looked to be 25 years of age. Was she saying this to butter me up? Was she saying this because compared to a 48 Chinese male, my general deportment seems to be that of a younger man? Anyway, this student is going to go to middle school in Los Angeles, California. The other student in the class, named Hunk, is an HR person at a company that provides the cleaning and security for the Wuxi Ikea.
Thursday (the 11th)
I work 1000-2100.
Last night, I entered some things into this blog using the Evernote app on my Ipad. Now, I am on my computer and I see that the sync worked with no hitches.
I asked the students about the strangest food they had ever eaten. Their answers were as not spectacular as I had hoped. I then asked them about food they hated and they told me things that they should have answered in response to the first question. A few students, in response to the second question, told me that they didn't like snake and baby chick fetuses. The latter is a famous Nanjing dish.
Tony lines up his toy cars, side-by-side, on the living room carpet. It is good to see that he does these things. Maybe, he will figure out how to organize his things when he puts them away.
Courage and Conviction. The two words that I get out of the tributes I have heard about Maggie. Courage, I heard it said, matters more than anything. Without courage, your virtues and good thoughts count for nothing. A damning indictment of me. I am so right when I say that what I believe doesn't matter. I am not an asset to my side. [LECTOR: There is nothing I can add to that. Arguing with you is no fun. You don't put up a fight like Gandhi against the Islanders. That's a reference to a gag on Letterman – something about video games that weren't very popular.]
A student of mine has gone to Kazakhstan. It was a hot and dusty place run by Muslims, he told me.
Are you the guy on the bus tv? As I waited to catch the first of the two buses I need to take to get home, a girl came up to and asked me that question. I said I was. She then asked me what it was like. I was tongue-tied because I had never been asked about it before by a stranger on the street. The girl asked me if people came up to me all the time... And then my bus came, and the last thing I told the young woman that she was the first to have come up to me to ask me about it.
Friday (the 12th)
I work 1100-2100.
From my office, I can hear students being drilled, military-style. I have been told that they are preparing for the May Day celebrations where they get to parade down the street.
I have decided to bring along my Chinese-English Berlitz dictionary. I should have been carrying with me all the time.
915 am. I am at work already. I take my son Tony to the kindergarten van pick-up spot. I figure I might as well go to work where I can get some things done.
I am in a crappy mood today. I was reading late last night, and I then got up early so I could get Tony to school. [LECTOR: Oh! Boo hoo hoo!]
I was teaching an afternoon class in a classroom that overlooks a church parking lot. At the church, a long-legged model wearing a black mini-skirt and high heels was posing for some photos. It was very distracting.
For dinner, I go to McDonald's. [LECTOR: So predictable.]
I teach there afternoon classes. But the time 1800 rolls around, I am pooped from having sat around all day and looked at my computer screen where I look at Chinese flashcards, and Python programming code. [LECTOR: What are you talking about? You do nothing all day!]
Saturday (the 13th)
Last evening, just after I arrived home, I found myself sitting in the bathroom with my nose up in the air -- straight up in the air, actually. A moment before, I remember I was trying to download a podcast on my Ipod while at the dining room table. I looked down at the floor to see a lot of red specks on the ground. It was my blood. Running to the bathroom mirror, I saw blood coming out of my nose profusely. It was strange because I didn't feel any pain and the real worry was getting my things dirty. I had to keep my nose in the air for 30 minutes before I felt assured that the bleeding had stopped. I didn't soil a thing, thankfully.
So today, I walk around with a big wad of paper towel in my pocket in case the bleeding happens again. Some kind of allergy to something in the Wuxi smog makes my nose very itchy. I scratch it , as Groucho Marx advises, but now I have to be careful.
I work 1000-1800 today.
I went to McDonalds for breakfast. For some inexplicable reason, I opened the pepper package and dumped it into my coffee. Attempts to scoop out the pepper with my cream package were to no avail. When I start doing things like that, I wonder if Alzheimer's is coming on. Where does my mind go sometimes? I am turning into an absent-minded professor type. I wonder how often I walk around with fly down or with unwashed shaving cream on my face.
I got my new passport quicker than I had expected. I had a nightmare of my passport not coming to me as the my May 7th visa expiration approached. The photo taken of me shows me scowling. That is, I mean I don't look to be a happy camper at all in the photo. I find it hard to believe that the photo passed muster with the passport authorities – it looks to show an emotion.
Two thoughts have occurred to me this past week: 1) How long is now? That is if you could assign a number to how long now is, what would that number be? .000000000000000000001 seconds perhaps. 2) The smallest thing, you can think of, contains a universe inside itself. How can you ever come to the absolute smallest thing? What is the size of the smallest thing that can ever be -- a thing so small that it can contain nothing within – that is, it is itself and nothing else?
I had this fear that my nose would start spouting blood while teaching. I then had a headache and I was thinking I was going to die of a cerebral hemorrhage or whatever brain-condition it is that cuts down people in their intellectual prime.
I took four photos of my supper. Here is the first of them. You can find the others yourself if you are interested. The food at a restaurant near the Hui Shan Tesco is quite good. If you want to go, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have no problem with you buying me dinner.
I had a lucid phone conversation with Tony. We then walked home together, hand-in-hand, from the restaurant where we had dinner. It is nice to be a father. [LECTOR: You just saying that in a lame attempt to show you are virile. Andis: That is lame. LECTOR: No. It isn't! Andis: Yes! It is!]
Sunday (the 14th)
My last class on Saturday was with a group of middle-school teenagers. I remembered the story about the drunk teacher making sure the little bastards knew what he thought of them. [I told you about that in the previous weekly edition of AKIC]
I don't work today. I may be doing lots of work around Casa Kaulins however.
You don't ever want to piss off my wife. The people who live on the floor above us, crude countryside types my wife tells me, steal water. To go around the water-meter, they have to drip water into a basin or pail – the faucets permitting faster flows of water being on the legal side of the meter. This they will do all night and the dripping sound can be heard in our apartment. My wife has a short temper and the dripping sound will drive her out of her mind and she isn't afraid to show it. Last night about one a.m., she was pounding on the neighbors door telling them to stop the dripping – she had gone to the apartment complex security but they couldn't stop the neighbors water-stealing, when I meekly asked her about it, so she felt had no resort but to take matters into her own hands.
I took Tony to a sandbox at the Hui Shan Century-Times Square.
I then had some ice cream from KFC while Tony drank cola. I asked Tony if my face was clean after having eaten the ice cream, and the little bastard said it was!
I then took Tony boat-spotting. Some locals thought he was a girl. He then said he was tall for his age, I suppose as way of making up for their first gap.
And what better way to cap off a perfect afternoon with my son by doing some train-spotting? [LECTOR: Did you think you could do something else with him?]
Meanwhile, Andis's darling Jenny did some baking.
Putting pdf flashcards on my Ipad is the best idea I have had this week! [LECTOR: Last week, your best idea was to put me in your blog! Andis: Thank ya very much!]
I have just seen PSY's Gentleman video. I suppose it is his encore to Gangnam Style. It is a great song and a very crude but interesting video. I like the dominatrix girl who pulls the chair out from under him and later dances by his side. I can't approve of the very ungentlemanly acts he does during the video like taking his finger from his asshole and sticking it in a girl's face, pulling the chair out from a model as she was trying to sit, and pretending to hump a plastic street pylon.
I am going to publish this entry at about 830 pm on a Sunday night. I assume nothing is going to happen in the next 3.5 hours.