Sunday, April 28, 2013

The AKIC Weekly Blog Entry: April 22 to April 28, 2013

Gratitude: Thank God for holidays. I will have one on May 1st.
Acknowledgment: I acknowledge something in this section of this weekly blog entry; or I maybe I should say, I make a confession. This week, I acknowledge, or confess, that I am getting lazy. I am not lazy in the sense of descending to sitting on the sofa and playing computer games all the time, but I really don't do much useful work these days. Playing with Chinese flashcards and the Python computer programming language doesn't help anyone else or expand my skill set.
Request: I pray for the recovery of my Aunt Dzidra who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dzidra, my mother's oldest sister, has been diagnosed with cancer.

The AKIC Week in Brief.   I lived this week in anticipation of the May Day holiday that is coming up in the next week. My Saturday was brilliant because everyone in China had to either go to work or go to school so they could get April 29(Monday), April 30 (Tuesday) and May 1 (Wednesday) off. I wrote my first long program in the python computer language – the first time I had written a program in thirty years.

About Me (Andis)  I am a guy who hates the wild-card in Major League Baseball.  One of the things I liked about MLB was its pennant races – I could think of nothing better than two teams dueling for months on end for first place – the only time you could cruise was when you had clinched first place, not just a playoff spot.  When the Montreal Expos were actually in a pennant race in 1979, it was the most engrossing thing I had ever followed in sports -- and it happened but a year after the great '78 race between the Yankees and the Red Sox.  I suppose the idea of the wild-card was to try to increase those moments of drama -- it instead cheapened them.  Those pennant race moments require buildups that are much longer than a playoff series.  [Now what does this rant tell you about me? I am in a stick-in-the-mud about some things.]

I in in China!  对!我现在在中国!我很喜欢看书和写在因特网。我不喜欢中国的开车人。

I am Canadian!  I decided to do something that I never would have thought possible while I was living in Canada: download a Gordon Lightfoot song. Having not had to be subjected to him for over eight years, I decided to try to listen to Rainy Day People with an open mind – a mind not polluted by an aversion to him brought on by CRTC regulations. The song wasn't so bad. I also downloaded “You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

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 guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have done his last ReJoyce Podcast in about 22 years.  Now that I have caught up to Delaney's podcast (he completed episode #150 this week), I am getting ahead him as far as reading the book.  I will be finished reading it, I figure, in a year.
The Holy Bible King James Version: I am reading a chapter a day. Now I am in the Gospel According to Saint John.
University Economics:  Elements of Inquiry Third Edition by Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen:   A great Economics textbook.
The Hills & The Sea by Hilaire Belloc.  Finished.  The sort of book I wish I could write but I haven't had the experiences and haven't the talent.
Put out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh.  Finished.  My wife got annoyed at me when the novel made me giggle in bed.
A Midsummer-Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. What can one say? It is a total classic; and because I am reading it for enjoyment and not for school, it is actually quite enjoyable.
The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A.G. Sertillanges. How did I go almost fifty years without having heard of this book? Well. I didn't start reading Father Schall till three months ago. It could make my top ten list of my favorite books.
I like to make videos
Here is my latest creation on my Youku and Youtube channels.

I teach English Or do I just talk to the Chinese so they can practice their English? Either way, I will disclose a little of my teaching philosophy that I do have: Chances are that in a fifty five minute class, you aren't going to teach the students more than four or five words, so you have to drill those into them.

I like to cut and paste quotes that I found interesting:
The following are from Don Colacho:
  • 1945 The necessary and sufficient condition of despotism is the disappearance of every kind of social authority not conferred by the State.
  • 1949 The people wants what it is told it should want.
  • 1960 Error almost always walks more elegantly than the truth.
  • 1964 The only man saved from intellectual vulgarity is the man who ignores what it is fashionable to know.
  • 903 Reading the newspaper degrades whomever it does not make into a brute.  [I would even say following the news turns one into a brute.  Thinking of the people who are running the US government now, puts me into a nasty mood.  Hearing that Justin Trudeau, who may or not be the son of Pierre Trudeau, makes my feel brutish as well.]
  • 1985 Conflicts rarely break out over the true disagreements.
  • 2000 The compassion we display to some helps us to justify the envy which others awaken in us. [An accurate observation of human nature. It is certainly true in my case.]
  • 2030 The left never attributes its failure to a mistaken diagnosis but to the perversity of events.
  • 2035 Theoretical affability toward vice is not a proof of liberality and elegance, but of vulgarity.
  • 2040 To the petulant subjectivism of the man who believes he is the measure [of all things] is opposed the humble subjectivism of the man who refuses to be an echo.

Here are some GK Chesterton quotes:
  • The greatest of all illusions is the illusion of familiarity.
  • A moderate is a man who wants his children to be moderately clean, houses to be moderately sanitary, and their inhabitants to be moderately sober.
  • The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind. [I stopped worrying about the look of my body – thirty years ago. The best decision I ever made.]
  • The things we see every day are the things we never see at all.
  • The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant. He is always breathing the air of locality. . . . The man in the cabbage field has seen nothing at all; but he is thinking of the things that unite men—hunger and babies, and the beauty of women, and the promise or menace of the sky. [I am no globe-trotter. I am a mover. I really haven't done that much traveling.]
  • We must make up our minds to be ignorant of much, if we would know anything.
  • Tolerance is the virtue of people who don‘t believe anything.

From Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh:  
  • That’s as may be, but this isn’t Spain. We can’t go arresting people for what they say in a private conversation in a café. I’ve no doubt we shall come to that eventually, but at the present stage of our struggle for freedom, it just can’t be done.”
  • Invasions swept over China; the Empire split up into warring kingdoms. The scholars lived their frugal and idyllic lives undisturbed, occasionally making exquisite private jokes which they wrote on leaves and floated downstream… [Are there such scholars in China now? Or were they all hunted down?]

Politically, I am Conservative: In my mid-twenties, I ceased to be a left-winger. For this you can blame Rush Limbaugh and F.A. Hayek, among others. My road away from Leftism really began when at the Union Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The UC , on Portage Avenue, was, and perhaps still is, close to the University of Winnipeg and was a popular spot for students to go have a beer and play pool. The Union Center's walls were bestrewn with images of “laboring people.” I remember once, while there on a Friday afternoon, playing devil's advocate, – I was still a leftie and trying to be intellectually honest – with a student who was so left-wing that he got a job working with the NDP (Canada's Labour Party) in the Manitoba provincial legislature. The subject was the Americans. The NDPer was so over-the-top with his criticisms of the Americans – I think he said that they weren't good at anything – that I found that I, who was then proud to say he was a Socialist, was having to stand up for the Americans. Moral of the story: being intellectually honest and being a Leftie is incompatible. I eventually choose, after some prideful obstinance, to stop being a left-winger.

I like to keep a diary
Here is the list of its characters:
  • Andis
  • LECTOR: really Andis pretending to criticize himself.
  • Tony: Andis's son [you can see photos of him here and here.]
  • Jenny: Andis's wife
  • Students
  • My Handler
  • Andis's Mom
  • Chinese Flashcards
  • My Home Laptop
  • My School Laptop
  • My Ipad Mini

Monday [April 22nd]
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today.

I phoned my Mom last night.  She tells me that it is still snowing and cold in Brandon, Manitoba. I hate to tell her that temperatures are in the mid-twenties here in Wuxi.

Tuesday [April 23rd]

Tony sits on my lap and giggles for some unknown reason.

I  must put money on my bus card. I have less than 10 rmb on it.

[Home Laptop]
I just looked at 400 Chinese flashcards. I identified about 90 percent of them correctly.

[School Laptop]
On the way downtown, the bus, I was riding, broke down.  I had to walk to the next stop to get to the place where I did top up my bus card with money with 100 rmb. There is irony in that. [LECTOR: Are you sure?]

I work 1300-2100.

How to become a high Testosterone ____ Wonder Being (what are the two words I had in the middle?)

One of the students I talked to today was this young girl who works seven days a week at a restaurant.  She has down time during her work day which lasts from 900 in the morning to 800 in the evening, but really her schedule is brutal, and I feel very sorry for her.  I also feel guilty because I don't think we are doing enough for her to with the investment she has made to improve her English.

Had an awful headache during my VIP class.

I watched the first 30 minutes of Jesus of Nazareth series that I watched before Easter.  For whatever reason, I got it into my head to watch it a second time.

As of now, I have had 22 views of my last weekly blog entry – not very good.   However, On Youku, I have had 150 views of Trains, Toys & Tony.

Wednesday [April 24th]
[School Laptop]
I work 1300 to 2100 today.  I have five classes and I have to go to the police station in order to renew my Visa.  So, I have spent the morning at home doing my daily flashcard practice and Chinese typing practice.

Oh the humanity!  I think to myself as I go to school. I can never take for granted how there are so many people in China.

I wear my Winnipeg Jets cap today. [LECTOR:  What do you tell you very few readers this? I do have a reputation to live up to as Wuxi's most boring expatriate.]

I have a student, in 2000 class tonight, whose name is Eileen.  I have downloaded a song by Dexy's Midnight Runners titled Come On Eileen!  I might play if for her; I might not.  Listening to the song, most of the lyrics are incomprehensible:  Come on Eileen blah blah blah blah! But the music and rhythm are quite catchy.

As I said last night, or rather, as I  typed into my Ipad last night, I had a headache during my VIP class and it was an ordeal to make it to the end.  I also had a pains in my right leg from my hip to my knees and then further down to my ankle.  The only thing, I can do for it is to massage it.

What's new?  I am thinking about the earthquake in China.  Why?  I'm Chinese.

Thursday [April 25th]
[School Laptop]
I work 1000 to 2100 today.  My long day.  Not necessarily my busiest day.  What I mean is that this is the day of the week that I spend most of my time away from Casa Kaulins.

Last night, as the class came to an end and I needed to say something, I asked a woman student what she was now going to do and she told me that she was going to pick up her dog which was having a bath at some pet spa.  Thinking of someone I knew who had a dog, I thought to mention it to the woman but didn't.  Instead, I giggled at the thought of somehow saying that it wasn't the person who needed the bath, but the person's dog who did, although it wasn't a stretch to think that this particular individual needed a bath as much as his dog.

Slow moving old types descending the stairs of the double-decker bus as it is about to pull into my stop.  Annoying!!

I went to the police office yesterday to have my visa renewed.  While there, I saw another foreigner having to do the same thing done I assumed.  I overheard him say that he was from a small town in the Canadian province of Quebec. I lived in Quebec from 1971-1976.  

At one of the two areas we went to in the police station, one of the uniformed clerks told my handler that he recognized me -- from the Bus TV, of course.  "Do you want his signature!" said my handler to him.  My handler told me the clerk turned red-faced at the suggestion.

I found these two interesting reactions to the Boston Marathon Bombings by David Warren and Steve Sailer.

Tony will have to go to school this Saturday and Sunday so he can get Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday off next week for the May Day holiday.

I am working on an email to be sent to my brother Ron who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  I have to talk to him more than I have done.  I think the last time I talked him was at Christmas time.  Writing to my sister and now my brother, I have decided that it is best to take my time sending emails.  That is, I should write them, save them, look at them again, add, edit, and repeat doing so until I think it is time finally to send it -- either that or say to myself: "Enough already, you diddly dandy do, press the "send" button, why don't ya?"

Friday [April 26th]
I work 1100-2100 but I am already at school at 900.  [Lector:  God!  Why so early?]  I come early not out of some strange zealous devotion to duty, but because I have to get Tony to his Kindergarten bus/van pickup at 745.  I figure that I might as well just go to work instead of return to the apartment and then leave if half-an-hour later.  The things I would have done at home, like Chinese flashcard study, I could just as well do at school on the school laptop. [Which reminds me!  I am writing on the School Laptop]

I am wasting my time.  [LECTOR:  You just figured that out?!?]  Here's the proof.  I took the 602to work today.  (I could have taken the 602, 610 or 25, but I choose to take the 602. Why? This is another story which I won't bore you with now.)  I took that particular bus to a stop where I then waited for the 81 bus (I could get on the 79 or 85 if I wanted to at that stop, but I prefer the romance of a double-decker bus.)   While waiting for the 81, I saw another 602pull into the stop, much to my bemusement.  If  I had only known, I could have taken my time back by Casa K!  I could have lingered in the small shop, for instance, where I buy my gum.  [LECTOR:  You waste time, you know, by not getting the 79 or 85 buses.  Andis: True enough.  But I would not have soaked in the romantic atmosphere of the 81 bus.  Life should be a proper mixture of efficiency and romance.]

Playing with the Python programming language, I will soon be able to write a program that will do most of my tournament work for me.

I have just written a program that can play a round-robin tournament game.

Saturday [April 27th]
[School Laptop]
Students are going to school and workers are going to work, and so they aren't coming to the school to take English classes.  So, an easy day for me – just two classes.

I will challenge myself by spending lots of time on the flashcard practice.

[Home Laptop]
I took Tony out of the apartment this evening. I wanted to go for an e-bike ride around the area, maybe even go to Yanqiao; Tony wanted to go to Tesco to look at toys. Tony's will prevailed but I got angry and vowed to never take Tony to a toy store on our next outing together. I was at least able to get Tony out of the store as quickly as possible. All I spent on him was 2 rmb at the arcade. But then Tony further annoyed me by asking to go home as soon as we got on the e-bike. “I don't want to go to Yanqiao! I want to go home!” moaned Tony when I told my desire. Tony is getting lame. He is not at all adventurous and is always begging to go home – something he has never done before.

I got sad news in an email from my mother. Her oldest sister – Mom was the youngest of four daughters – has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Auntie Dzirdra! My God! I pray Dzidra doesn't suffer and can live for a few more years yet! [Dzidra lives in Winnipeg – a street over from my brother Ron.]

I spend the evening at Casa K working on my weekly blog entry. [Only 29 people have read my last blog entry as I type this.] During the week, I write the entry in Evernote. On Saturday, I import the entry to my home laptop where I put it into a text file that I can edit with Open Office.

Sunday [April 28]
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today, but Tony has to go to school. So I was up early this morning to send him off'.

David Warren, my favorite presence on the Internet, has written a blog entry about the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Warren's assessment of Bush is, as are of some of the entry's commentators, bang-on. Bush was a decent man who tried to do the right things for the right reasons, who loved his country (unlike the current President), who meant well and was lacking in any sort of cynicism. His failures, and I admit there were a few, could be attributed to the fact that he lived in a post-1965 America that had become spoiled and self-hating. Like Sarah Palin, you can say that Bush had to have been doing something right because he was hated the people one should be hated by if one is to, in fact, be a decent human being. [LECTOR: split infinitive!]

Sights & Sounds as I walk to the bus stop:

  • Woman wears t-shirt that says "The Resurrection Will Be Truculent.”
  • A flat bed truck passes and I hear its passenger grunt.  I look up to see a man spit out of the cab.  His face goes momentarily cross-eyed and his projectile darts out swift and true from  just below the middle of his upper lip.

On the bus:  
  • The sidewalks around the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza, which is under construction, have been completed.  They seemed to have appeared overnight.
  • It is not a good idea to fly Iranian jetliners if they are Boeings. A student told me that because of a trade embargo, the Iranians can't get parts of their Boeings. Recalling when he had once flown by an Iranian-owned Boeing, he told me that the plane felt like it was falling apart and that its engine didn't sound right.

[Home Laptop]
This has to be my lamest weekly blog entry ever. Trying to edit it, I get this sinking feeling that the prose is just utterly awful.

For lunch, Jenny & I went to the Jinling Hotel for a lunch buffet. It was not great, but not bad.

I took Tony for an E-bike ride after he came back from school. We rode to a nearby town that is just across the border that divides Wuxi and Jiangying districts. Like a Western movie set, the town had buildings along its main drag and not much behind them – at least on the southern side. Going in a southerly direction, we found a nice narrow paved road that was tree-lined and took us over many narrow bridges. We felt like we were in the countryside for we saw people, with the appearance of peasants, engaged in subsistence farming, using hoes to scrape the land and bearing pails, two-at-a-time, by tying them to a long and narrow board that could be carried on their shoulders. The whole scene was lovely and because the weather was perfect, this e-bike trip brought me the best moments of the week.

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