Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Week in the Life of AKIC: May 6 to May 12, 2013

Gratitude: I am thankful for two nice comments I got this week. In fact, I am usually thankful to get any comments, even ones telling me I suck, but, let's fact it, nice comments are better.
Acknowledgment: I am physically uncoordinated – read what happened to me on Saturday.
Request: I hope for a cool Wuxi summer. I don't like what I have experienced of it so far.

An AKIC Glossary
Gratitude: will always be the first word of the AKIC weekly blog entry -- it is the key to happiness.
Acknowledgment and Request:  For me Acknowledgment means confession; and Request means request.  GAR [Gratitude, Acknowledgment, Request] are the simple stages of a prayer which I came upon following the Jewish World Review site.  I used GAR when delivering my father's eulogy.
Jenny is my wife.
J: I will sometimes refer to her that way.
Tony is my son.
T: I will sometimes refer to Tony this way.
TKIC: Tony Kaulins in China. I may be referring to the TKIC blogs or to Tony when I use TKIC. I am sure you can figure out which way I am using it from the context.
AKIC: Andis Kaulins in China. The same applies to AKIC as applies to TKIC. That is, I may be referring to the AKIC blogs or to myself.
My School is HyLite English located on Zhongshan Road in Wuxi, China.
Casa Kaulins is what I call the apartment I (really my wife) owns.
California Villa: The English name of the apartment complex the Kaulins family resides. In Chinese pinyin, it is call Jia Zhou Yang Fang.
Train-spotting.  There is a high speed train track running near Casa K.  Tony & I, when we have a chance, love to go there to watch the trains go by.
Wuxi:  The city where Jenny, Tony & I live. I sometimes call it the Wux.
Hui Shan: The district of Wuxi in which we live.
The Square: The Hui Shan People's Square is near Casa Kaulins
Yanqiao: a town of Hui Shan District -- not too far from Casa Kaulins
Jiangyin: A city or district next to Wuxi.
Meicun: A suburb of Wuxi city that is far from the downtown.
Shuo Feng: Ditto!
Ditto! Agrees with what has been previously said.
Z: a foreign teacher at the school.
Farok Bagolli: An English teacher. Not from my school.
LECTOR: I got the idea for Lector, a fictional sparring partner for my blog, from a Hillaire Belloc book I had read recently.
School Laptop: I like to make note of where I make my notes for my weekly blog entry. One of the four places is my school laptop. The other three are: my home laptop, my Ipad Mini, and my Ipod Touch.

The AKIC Week in Brief: Summer weather came to Wuxi and so I got a sunburn. I tried to skip rope for the first time in my life. Tony showed a faculty for dissimulation. 

About Me (Andis):

I in in China! 我的中文的名字是“Tony爸爸”  在我的旁边的小卖部,这个老板给我这个名字

Politically I am Conservative!  Not that it really matters of course.  I could be a Zoroastrian Marxist for all it is worth -- my opinions aren't heeded by those who would agree with me and those who won't. I love Rush Limbaugh, William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, Edmund Burke, John Derbyshire, Anne Coulter, David Warren, Andrew Briebart, Preston Manning, Milton Friedman, Marc Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Marc Levin, and so on. Who's on the dark side? Obama and Justin Trudeau, to name but a few.

I am Canadian!  What kind of Canadian things have I done this week? I have been checking the NHL playoff results daily. I have been listening to some Charles Adler podcasts. I have been wearing a Winnipeg Jets cap.
I teach English! That is the least interesting thing about me.
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 #152 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.  I am now reading the Acts of the Apostles.
University Economics:  Elements of Inquiry Third Edition by Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen:   A great Economics textbook. 
The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A.G. Sertillanges. Finished. A book full or practical advice. I should have read it when I was 18. Oh well. Better late than never.
Hernando Cortez / Makers of History by John S C Abbott.  Finished.  Like the conquest of Peru, the conquest of Mexico is a story in which no one looks good.  You wonder how magnificent empires could crumble so easily from on the onslaught of just thousands of Europeans.  You feel disgust at the avarice of the conquerors.  You wonder about the role of the Catholic Church in the conquests. You feel sad for the timidity of the Indians.
The Hobbit of JR Tolkien. I hadn't read this book before. I have seen parts of the recent movie based on the book. But it was reading Father Schall's praising of Tolkien that really inspired me to read the Hobbit. Tolkien, says Schall, is more than just the creator of the genre of Fantasy fiction.

I like to take photos
I publish them in the following blogs: AKIC wordpress, TKIC blogspot, and TKIC wordpress.

I like to make videos

I like to cut and paste quotations:
I snatched this from David Warren's blog:  But my darling, there is nothing about your little ‘self’ that is worth expressing.”  I love this expression.  It is reactionary and absolutely true in all cases.  It is very anti-Modernist.  Conversely, it calls into question practically all I have done in my blogging and video-making activity.  And yet it can serve as a guiding principle in all I do from now on.  I have to blog for some higher purpose outside me self.

I stole these three words from the Taki Mag Blog:  hermetically sealed introvert.  How I wish I could apply these three words to myself.

From Sertallanges:  Such an intelligence grows narrow; instead of looking at everything from the point of view of the universal, it falls to the level of a spirit of clique and gossip.  [He talks of the individual who is not creative.]

From Don Colacho:

2123 For the last two centuries ago they have called a “free thinker” the man who believes his prejudices are conclusions.

2125 False elegance is preferable to genuine vulgarity. The man who dwells in an imaginary palace demands more from himself than the man who is happy with his hovel.

2144 Cynicism, like every dogmatic attitude, is too easy.

2145 Modern man comforts himself by thinking that “everything has a solution.” As if there were no sinister solutions! [A middle-of-the-road reader of the blog said that those of his irk had more tools to solve problems.  I'd say he had more ways to fuck things up. ]

2150 Smiles are divine, laughs human, guffaws bestial. [I have overheard lots of guffaws in my time. Damn the company I keep or rather the groups I am marginal to.]

I like to keep a journal of my daily activities and any thoughts that occur to me.

Monday [May 6]

As soon as I made a blog entry about it, the police phone to tell me something on the form was wrong and I was going to have to come back and get another form.  Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!

I have Zorba the Greek movie on my Ipad.

Check in floceting population: This sign was posted in the Police Station near Casa K.

请勿吸烟: Please no smoking!

Wuxi a coastal city?  That is what was said in an ABC news report about the fox, mink, and other rat meat scandal:
Among those arrested were 63 people who allegedly ran an operation in Shanghai and the coastal city of Wuxi that bought fox, mink, rat and other meat that had not been tested for quality and safety, processed it with additives like gelatin and passed it off as lamb.
[No Wuxiren, that I have meet, would say Wuxi was a coastal city.]

Tuesday [May 7]
[Home Laptop]
I wake up feeling lethargic and not at all refreshed. Ugh!

The wife made pizza last night – it was goooooood.

Using photostream on our Apple products, J sent me some two old photos.

What the hell?  This has to be a hoax.

I work today 1300 to 2100.  What fresh horrors await?

[School Laptop]
This suffering is sweet I thought to myself as I stood on the bus taking me on Zhongshan Road. [LECTOR: What are you talking about?]

On my days off, I was able to produce a program, written in Python, that could produce sorted standings for a four team round robin.  My next challenge will be to produce code for a sudden death game and then a sudden death tournament. What I have done so far seems to have one flaw.  If I want to produce standings for larger groupings of teams or many groups of teams, I may have to make code from scratch.

A good way to test my recognition of signs is to take out my Ipod, use the note app, put on the simplified mandarin keyboard to see if I can replicate the characters I see.

Wednesday [May 8]
[School Laptop]
I work 1300 to 2100 today.  I have an English Corner in the afternoon (topic:  trains), and three classes in the evening. [Later:  300 PM:  I enjoyed talking about trains.  I don't know if the students did, but whatever.  The topic brought back memories:
  • I remember the 200 car long trains in Manitoba.  
  • I remember playing on tracks in Val Belair Quebec and putting my head on the track after a train had passed  -- the ringing was quite something.  
  • Another time in Quebec, I put coins and stones on the track in a morbid bid to derail the train -- nothing happened, thankfully.  
  • In BC, I remember the excitement of my nephew Kyle as we drove past a long freight train -- I think we stopped the car to let him watch.  
  • We rode the train from Quebec City to Winnipeg once.
  • Another time, with friends, I took the train from Winnipeg to Alberta.
  • In Mexico, I rode the train through golden canyon.  We were able to stand at the back of the train in the open air.
  • In Chilliwack, I remember being overawed by the power of a long diesel train making its way done the tracks of a sub line of a minor railway.
  • In China, on my honeymoon, we took the train from Wuxi to Beijing and back.  ]

It is wet and ugly outside.  There is enough wind to turn one's umbrella from a shelter into a propeller.

With my the first anniversary of my father's death approaching (May 28), I am working on a tribute entry to be published that day.  I intend this piece to be the most tortured of my blogging career.

Thursday [May 9th]
Traffic jam.  Is this always the case?  Either the rain or an accident is to blame.

[School Laptop]
You can thank the use of the square brackets to the fact that I am trying to learn the Python programming language.

I work 1000-2100 today.  It seems I will have an easy day.  I don't have so much prep to do.

It is raining for the second day in the road.  It isn't a torrential rain but everyone is carrying an umbrella -- that is, everyone who thought to take an umbrella; I did see a few people without.

Looking at the KFC sign, I saw the first character had been a character I had been learning in my Flashcard practice - this was a little moment of the practice paying off for me.[肯德基 (pinyin kendeji) The character was ken.]  

A thought that came to me:  Those of you who think the world has too many people, why don't you practice what you preach and kill yourselves?  Better yet, why don't you find a room, fill it with people who agree with you, and you can drink the kool-aid together. [LECTOR: Andis! You are one of the too many people. Why don't you join us?]

Another thought came to me:  Those of you who think parenting is a lifestyle choice, you must think your parents made the wrong lifestyle choice, and perhaps they did.  My father and his father didn't make lifestyle choices when they had kids -- it was just something you did if you were a man. [LECTOR: Are priests men? You approve of that institution. ANDIS: Indeed I do! LECTOR: The forced celibacy causes them to rape little boys! ANDIS: Homosexuals shouldn't be priests!]

I went to a nearby grocery store to buy some Pineapple Beer.  It is in season.  I have always wondered if these is any alcohol in the Pineapple Beer I buy.  I think I can say it does for the cans I bought bear the words "low alcohol Beer."

Friday (May 10th)
[School laptop]
I work 1100-2100.  I arrive at school at 905 after having had breakfast at McDonald's.

I work up feeling like I had a head cold.  I was all stuffed up and the idea of doing any intellectual activity made me wince. [LECTOR: When do you engage in intellectual acitivity.]

I ran into Farok Bagolli last night.  I was walking to my bus stop, listening to a podcast about U.S. President Pierce when I did hear some sound like "Andis!"  I though nothing of the noise when I heard it again.  Farok was screaming at me.  "What's the matter?  We are not friends anymore?"  "Yes!" I thought as I pretended to be friendly but hopefully not doing a good job of it. [Lector: That encounter should be passed over in silence. Why mention it? You are pushing your luck.]

When all else fails, you can, by seeming to take the high road, admit that you fucked up. [LECTOR: That is definitely your motto, and I am sure that you have lived by it on many instances.]

Lunch Money Day.  One month, we get about 150 rmb or so -- lunch money.  I take the money and buy Tony a toy.  I wanted to buy him these Ultraman figurines but when I went to the shop, these figurines looked to be of poor quality and over-priced; and they weren't the exact figures I was looking for.  I ended up buying him a truck towing a digger on a trailer.

Tomorrow, the school will go on a Field Trip!  I will bring Tony with me!  We will be going to some sort of Agricultural museum.

Apparently, Little Sheep Hot Pot place is one of the restaurants in Wuxi that bought the rat, fox, and mink meat. I heard a person complain that he really resented having to pay lamb prices for rat, fox, and mink meat.

Ask him a question and he will vomit out an answer.

People age at the same rate but sometimes mature in different directions.

In Python, I have written a program that can give me the following:

Team W L T PF PA Diff Pts
Edmonton 10 6 0 102 62 40 30
British Columbia 8 7 1 69 80 -11 25
Saskatchewan 8 8 0 94 95 -1 24
Winnipeg 7 9 0 95 102 -7 21
Calgary 6 9 1 66 87 -21 19

The standings were based on random generated results.  I find it enchanting that I can do this, but I don't know where to go from here.  Writing the programs take time and I have to think how I want to use the brief time I have for learning Python wisely.

I first heard that the economist John Maynard Keynes was gay when I was studying Economics at the University of Winnipeg.  It was an item of brief interest, and I have to admit that it escaped my mind until I caught wind of the controversy caused by things said by Niall Ferguson.  Does Keynes' homosexuality play a role in his Economic thought?  It depends what you think Economics is.  Is it scientific?  I don't see how someone's sexual orientation would matter much if one was a physicist -- physics is a hard science where the observations can't lie.  But what if Economics is not so much a science as a study of the philosophy of morals? It may matter then. [LECTOR: Homophobe!]

Saturday (May 11th)
[Home Laptop]
I didn't teach classes today. The school had a field trip to park in the fringes of the city beyond Meicun and Shuo Feng.

Tony came with me on the trip. He had said through the week that he wanted to come, but then this morning, he insisted that he didn't want to and would rather stay in bed. I couldn't convince him to come on the field trip but Jenny did. She has powers of persuading Tony to do things that amaze me. I can't fathom how she can convince him to do things that he would rather not do. With me, Tony will only do what he wants to do – I can't get him to do things against his wishes.

The park we went to had nothing in it that I hadn't seen in other Wuxi parks. It had a lake, piers, and pathways. Upon closer inspection, one could see that much it was falling apart and that the water was stagnant and icky. [LECTOR: Icky: what a nice choice of words.]

I had bought Tony a new toy the previous day. It gave him incentive to come with me today. I used funds from my Tony Toy Kitty fund to pay for it. Tony loved the toy and played with it all the while we were at the park, till he got a water gun.

Part of the activities of the field trip were these games... I don't really want to go into much detail about them, other then to say they were cheesy in the manner of milk and cookie party games.

I do want to mention that in one of the games, there was a relay race involving rope skipping. I found myself in line, actually last in line, and I realized that I was going to look really foolish because I had never skipped rope in my life, and the age of 48 with a lame right leg, I was about to hold onto a skipping rope for the first time in my life in a situation demanding me to do something I had never done before, as quickly as possible in a competitive race. As soon as it was my turn, I got tangled up in the rope, of course, and the skipper from the other team raced far ahead of me to the finish line thereby clinching a victory for her side. I didn't bother finishing the race.

Why is it, I was asked, that I had never before skipped rope? I just didn't and if anything, it was something girls did, I said. Thinking about it now, it was probably also the case that being the solitary shunned type with no friends, I never had a chance to skip rope in my school days. [LECTOR: I can only laugh at your incompetence!]

After the skipping debacle, there was a barbecue – typical Chinese fare: meat, tofu, fish and mushrooms served on sticks. I ate a little; Tony ate nothing but he was more interested in playing with his new toy truck and trailer.

After the barbecue, I took Tony, as I had promised him earlier because of his bickering, to the park's lake (or was it pond?) to ride a pedal boat. That was fun enough though my right leg really wasn't up to providing pedal power for the boat. The leg didn't bother me so much however, when I saw two boats of girls from our school group and decided to ram them!

Just as we returned to dock, some of the passengers on the other boats had water guns and were having water fights with each other. I tried to avoid them. Tony saw the water fights and was quite amused. As we got off the boat, he saw the water guns on sale by the dock and he insisted that I buy him one. I didn't have the energy to fight him and it was a day to indulge him; and so I had to spend the rest of the time we had at the park accompanying him round the lake as he sprayed water all over the place. At one pier, he engaged in a water fight with a boat where a boy, probably of similar age, had a water gun. Tony sprayed the boy and the adult passengers of the boat with water. Eventually, Tony got soaked himself and became distressed as a result, but I told him it had coming.

A chartered bus took our group back to downtown Wuxi. Tony & I walked through the downtown to get to our bus stop, stopping at a KFC so Tony could eat wings, and stopping at any pools or fountains we came upon so Tony could use his water gun.

Tony seemed reluctant to talk to Jenny on the phone after I told her about his water gun antics. He suspected Jenny did not approve of my buying him, what I learned was, his third water gun. But a little later, suddenly, while on the bus, he told me he wanted to talk to Mom. When I gave him the phone he told her that it was my idea to buy the water gun. This was a blatant lie that even Jenny, who favours Tony to me in our all-male disputes, was not going to believe. Finding that Mom didn't believe him, Tony gave the phone to me and again refused to talk to his mother on the phone. But then a few minutes later, he asked me to phone Mom again. This time, he told her that I had bought him the toy truck and trailer – this I think he did because he wanted Mom to get mad at me for buying the toy and so forget about the water gun. This only served to get both of us in trouble with Jenny. And then just as we were getting close to home, Tony asked to phone Mom for a third time. I told him we were getting close to home and so there was no point, but Tony insisted. He told Jenny that he was going to take a bath with the water gun. I guessed he figured this would make Mom happy.

Pineapple Beer is in season! And I have confirmed that it does contain alcohol! [LECTOR: it probably contains but one or two percent to satisfy wimps like you?]

Benghazi hearings. John Derbyshire is right. The whole episode is proof of Obama's incompetence as an administrator. The three woman, who Obama leaned on in in dealing with Libya, one of whom was Hilary Clinton, should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives for the four people that were killed because of their liberal interventionist incompetence. Be that as it may, Derb says he can't get worked up about the hearings currently taking place. I can get worked up, however, because the whole Benghazi affair just reeks like Ted Kennedy never having made to really suffer for Chappaquiddick, Bill Clinton never resigning for the Monica Lewinsky affair, Bill Clinton getting away with Rape, and Barack Obama never truly having had to answer for his relationship with the vile reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The Cleveland Kidnappings. There are sick people among us. I wonder about the people I know and have dealings with. How sick are some of them? I bet they are real sick mothers.

Sunday [May 12]
I don't work today.

I got sunburned on my arms and legs yesterday. It is summer hot already in the Wux.

Tony wanted to go to the square this morning to play with his water gun.

At the square now, I sit I in the shade that I can find.

Later:  Just a little later, I sit in the KFC as Tony eats his favorite fried chicken wings.  The KFC is doing steady business. (Or should I say "brisk?"

AKIC:  Can I have a chicken wing?  TKIC:  No!  (To be fair, it should be pointed out that TKIC offered AKIC some chips.)

With temperatures around 30 degrees C today, we had the square to ourselves.  The square crowds form in the evening.

Tony slowly gnaws his way through each wing.  He is Chinese that way.  Westerner that I am,  I need at least ten wings in a serving before I think it is substantial -- one wing is nothing; I eat it and spit it out like it is a sunflower seed.  Each wing to Tony is like a whole chicken to me.
After KFC, Tony wants to go to an indoor playground.  We go.  I first take Tony home to pick up the admission card we have for the playground.  I also pick up my Ipad. [Lector: Exciting?]

As Tony  plays, I have read Schall, the Catechism, the Acts of the Apostles, the Intellectual Life, the Hobbit, Ulysses, Don Colacho, and will now give a brief glance at my Python computer language book. [LECTOR:  That's a lot of looking but have you done any real reading?]

I would rather take Tony on bike rides to the countryside than hang out at this playground.  There are just too many others. (Other kids, other parents, and so on....).   But Tony needs to be able to play and talk to other kids, I suppose.  I have always been too much of a solitary and a loner to think much of these things.  My instinct is to keep him as far away from others as possible, but that would imposing something of me on him that I shouldn't.

[Home Laptop]
I was able to pull Tony from that playground. I bought him some ice cream. We then went for a ride in the area. We rode our e-bike and stopped at two bridges. One was a pedestrian overpass built to connect an industrial park and a hotel – otherwise I couldn't see what the point of having it there was. The other was an freeway overpass. This overpass has stairs for pedestrians and a ramp for cyclists to pull up their bikes. I didn't see any pedestrians or cyclists using the stairs. We also came upon a pit near some newly constructed buildings – a stark sight that I had to take a photo of.

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