Sunday, May 5, 2013

The AKIC Blog Entry for April 29 to May 5, 2013

Gratitude: Thank God I am me, and not some people I happen to observe.
Acknowledgment: I don't think anyone who would want to be me – at least not among Caucasians.
Request: Visit the page I have dedicated to my father. The anniversary of his death [May 28th] is approaching.

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 him that way.
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, 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.
Wuxi:  The city where Jenny, Tony & I live.
Hui Shan: The district of Wuxi in which we live.
Yanqiao: a town of Hui Shan District -- not too far from Casa Kaulins
Jiangyin: A city or district next to Wuxi.
Z: a foreign teacher at the school.
LECTOR: I got the idea for Lector, a fictional sparring partner for my blog, from a Hillaire Belloc book I had read recently.

The AKIC Week in Brief.  It was the week of the May Day holiday. I didn't do anything to celebrate the day because it is really a celebration of Communism or Socialism

About Me (Andis)  
I in in China!  我是英文老师。在无锡,我住在惠山新区,加州洋房。

I am Canadian!  I follow the NHL playoffs from afar. I hope the Montreal Canadiens win the cup, even if they really aren't from a Canadian city. I don't want Ottawa or Anaheim to win.

I teach English! So I am not really an expatriate. Engineers and the likes – these people are really expatriates. Why do I teach English? I got into it so that I could move abroad, and say that the degree(s) I got were good for something – they weren't in Canada where I did a lot of nothing kind of jobs like library page, militiaman, 7-11 clerk, courier driver, stock boy, and line cook.
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 for 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 #151 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 Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A.G. Sertillanges. An uplifting book.
Hernando Cortez / Makers of History by John SC Abbott. I found this book at Project Gutenberg. A few months ago, I read a riveting account of the conquest of Peru, so naturally, I had to read about the conquest of Mexico.

I like to take photos: You can see some of the photos I take at AKIC Wordpress, TKIC Wordpress & TKIC Blogspot.

I like to make videos Here is the latest Youku video. I haven't uploaded it to my Youtube channel yet.

I like to cut and paste quotations
The following are from Don Colacho:

2043 The circus factions were not political parties; today’s political parties are circus factions.
2053 After seeing work exploit and demolish the world, laziness seems like the mother of the virtues.
2057 Dialogue does not consist of intelligences discussing with each other but of vanities confronting each other.
2059 Man speaks of the relativity of truth because he calls his innumerable errors truths.

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

Monday (April 29th)
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today.

In the morning I edited and finally published my April 22 to 28 entry.

In the afternoon, I took Tony on an e-bike ride in the area near Casa Kaulins.  We did some train-spotting but not at our usual location.  We instead took some roads that paralleled the track in order to perhaps find a better vantage point for some train spotting, and just see what else we could find.

And we did see many interesting things
  • We crossed numerous bridges.  
  • We found at least four other great train-spotting locations that offered us some more spectacular views of the trains that we had from our usual spot on a bridge that joins Jiangyin and Wuxi districts.  
  • We saw a lot of people fishing.  
  • I saw an old man walking on a road in bare feet.  
  • We saw more peasants looking to me like they were farming at a subsistence level.  
  • We found a nice old bridge.

I, of course, took a lot of photos and video.  I was even able to coax Tony to take some of me.

Tony's behavior, this day, was whimsical in that his whims kept changing in a manner that seemed ridiculous to me.  Three times on our excursion, he expressed an desire to go home, and so as I was driving him home, we came upon something that struck his interest and caused him to tell me to stop. “I thought you wanted to go home!”

TuesdayApril 30th)
[School Laptop]

I work 1300 to 2100.  Hard to come to work today because I am in holiday mode.  Tony is at home now because he doesn't have to go to school.

More thoughts about Monday:
  • How to describe the countryside I saw yesterday?  It was plopped down.  That is, it was strewn with many interesting structures that had been seemingly plopped from above (or to be more accurate from the center or a centralized place.)  Many of the structures seemed out of place and not to conform to the landscape or the situation of the people living there.  For example, I saw this four lane bridge built to join two narrow dirt roads.  I also saw other bridges similarly looking in-congruent with their surroundings.  But the biggest plop-down was the high speed rail way.  It towered above the landscape with its pillars six stories tall “plopped” above poor peasant hovels.
  • People were fishing in any puddle you came across in the countryside.
  • The old man with bare feet was so far from any place that I had to wonder why he had no shoes on.

I went to the photocopier at school.  I notice it was not turned on.  I turned it on and it made a horrible grinding noise.  I wondered to myself if the thing was out-of-order, and why there wasn't a sign to tell me so.  I then look to the white board that is on the wall behind the copier.  It tells me the copier is out of order.  Doh!  I wasn't looking high enough, I reasoned to an attempt to excuse myself.

Z is doing a bus TV commercial for the school.  He'll be talking about fashion.  I got to edit the script so as to make it more campy.  For instance:  "excellent!' was changed to "super!"

Wednesday (May 1st)
[Home Laptop]
Will Tony want to go on an e-bike ride with Dad?  He will if he doesn't want to do homework which will be his other option,

Shame on me:
Women & Child standing near me on account of there being no seats.  I don't get up and yield them my seat; my wife does.  I give my seat to my wife to put the curse off it.  I can at least say I was ashamed of myself and my better half was the better half.

Jason Collins.  Jason Collins.  Thank God, I spell my name K-a-u-l-i-n-s.

After some coaxing today, Tony came with me on an afternoon ebike ride.  Like our previous Monday outing, we took a route which skirted the high speed rate track, but we went the other way, going left wards from the Jiangyin-Wuxi bridge instead of right.  We went down a road that took us past dilapidated storefronts and factories.  We came upon an arched sign over a road and decided to see where the road  lead.  We rode past roadside vendors, piles of trash,  and white- washed row houses between which were pools used for washing clothes - it was a squalid scene and yet I detected the energy of a convivial slum as there were plenty of people to be seen.  At the end of the slum stood the high-speed rail track.  Going under the track, we were in the midst of fields where rice and wined plants were being cultivated.  As we rode through the fields, we were passed by cars being driven by student drivers; for at the end of the road was a big complex with a glass building crowned with a concrete dome bearing a five-star red flag around which cars could be driven for practice.  It seemed an uninviting and depressing place -- it was filled with the stench of garbage.  So, we turned around.

We returned to the road from which we had turned.  We continued along it and came to a T-intersection where turning right could have taken us to Jiangyin City.  We instead turned left towards Wuxi and discovered that the road lead to an area familiar to us:  Yanqiao.

It can be boring and frustrating to take Tony on these outings.  Sometimes, he insists on things that make no sense.  One time, he was insistent that we were going the wrong way.  In fact, he was very wrong and if we had gone in the direction he insisted, we would have taken 30 minutes more to go where he had insisted that he wanted to go to right away.  In a grocery store, he wouldn't let me spend two minutes to look among the shelves for something -- I had no choice but to smack him.  And many times, I have to stand by, bored out of my mind, at some place he insists on spending time at: like at a toy section that sells cheap crappy toys, at a playground with other children, and at an amusement arcade to watch him waste money on the most tawdry of amusements.  It is a duty that I must perform, I tell myself -- and the fact that I do feel put out and made to suffer is a good thing -- we are here to take pains for others.

Why is it that people who support abortion on demand are usually in favor of gun control?  It seems a contradiction.  [LECTOR: Why is it that many people who oppose abortion are against gun control?  That seems a contradiction!  Andis:  Abortion kills more than guns; and victims of gun violence actually did get more of a chance to lead a life. ]

I make a video and put it on Youku.  I use music by Cheap Trick and so I couldn't put the video on Youtube.  I will have to make a different version.

[Home Laptop]
I phoned my Mom.  I learn that it is still snowing in Brandon, my Aunt Dzidra is three months older than the Queen, and that my cousin Sandra is expecting her ninth child in September. I love the last bit of news – it is a nice piece of fuck you! to people who think there are too many people in the world.

Thursday (May 2nd)
[School Laptop]
I work 1000-2100 today.  It is my longest day of the week.  That is, the day of the week where my time spent in my school is the longest.   I ask myself what fresh horrors await?  Usually, I state, in my blog, something along the lines of: Alas!  What fresh horrors await me?   Well, really there aren't any, and most potential horrors I avoid by sitting in my office where I blog, study Chinese flashcards, type Chinese character using pinyin, read e-books on my Ipad, and now try my hand at the Python programming language.  I wonder how if I will react when the horrors do come, as surely they must eventually.  Will I take it all in stride and preserve some semblance (a very small semblance at that) of dignity?  At the least, I will act like I am not surprised.

I read a new blog entry by David Warren this morning.  He was writing about the car and the detrimental effects it has on civilization.  Personally, I am witnessing the detrimental effects that the car is having on China.  Because -- this is my theory -- the Chinese drive their cars with the mentality of people who ride bicycles, they don't take into account the overwhelming physical power they have over pedestrians, and so China is becoming uglier than ever.  The car is probably only second, now, to the Cultural Revolution in damage done, to classical Chinese civilization and Chinese beauty.  I don't want to have a car in China because I don't want to become one with the Chinese driver who has become everything that Mao's revolution was meant, in the mind of its idealists, to stop.  

I saw two examples of driving in China today. First, this morning, I saw a woman trying to cross at an intersection.  She had a green walk light telling her it was safe to proceed.  However, as she was between the two corners of the intersection, a car, making a left turn, cut her off.  She had to come to a full stop of the type one can only have when one is nearly hit by a fast-moving passerby.  Witnessing this from afar, I wanted to make a rude gesture to the driver who was then just happening to pass by me.  There was no point, I reasoned, for he would have understood why I was gesturing him and the fact that I was a foreigner would have been of much more import than any message I could have conveyed to him.  Secondly, as I was exiting my apartment building, I had seen a driver do about 40 km/h down the lane than runs in front of my house -- in Canada, the lane would have had speed bumps.  But that as well testifies to the character of Chinese Drivers -- they haven't been taught that they are supposed to show courtesy to pedestrians and cyclists – or maybe they have and they just don't care.  The Chinese people are not as one, not a great Socialist horde, when put into cars.  And because of Communism, the sense that an individual has to care about his neighbor and the people he meets has been squashed, and so there isn't a need or want on the part of Chinese to change this.

I am trying to wrap my head around what object-orientated programming is all about.  Python, they say, is that sort of programming language.  I hope I figure it out eventually.  But I did something with the language last night that I thought was cool.  I had a line of code like this: hscore=game1.hheads().  This statement can cause something to be printed -- not just an argument!!  The fact that I can do two things with a line of code is useful.

Not having a class till 1600, I spent about two hours on Python programming.

Friday (May 3rd)
I work 1100 to 2100 today.

Not much is happening today.  I will teach a class in the afternoon and then three classes in the evening.  I will be back at Casa K at 1015 PM.  I will spend some time studying Chinese and fiddling around with Python programing.  Right now with Python, I can stage a four team round robin tournament where I can have the teams play each other, I can present the results of the games, and I can present the win-loss-tie records of the teams.  I have been thinking of the problem of how to sort them into proper standings.  The classes or data-structures that are built into Python may not be able to help me -- I will have to create a new class -- which I am now trying to do.

On Wednesday, Tony saw a boy, at the playground, who was playing with a toy police car.  Tony had me take him home so he could get a firetruck and take it to the playground so he could play and talk to the boy.  Tony whines but he never complains about things like loneliness and being cold.

I actually took the time to read all that I had previously put into this entry.

I sent an email to my friend HM.  He replied to me quickly and I noticed that what I had written wasn't coherent and should have been edited.  HM didn't point it out to me but I feel embarrassed all the same.

Topic for one of my classes:  Top Ten Lists.  I will have a student in the class who is so shy and quiet that I will ask him to give me a top one list.

The top Chinese school boy's excuse for not having done one's homework:  The Japanese stole it.

Saturday (May 4th)
The Chinese character for music (yue)  also means joy (le).

I got on the bus and realized I had forgotten my glasses.

[School Laptop]
I work 1000 - 1800

The students make sentences, that while grammatically correct, are just not said.  For instance, a female student said this:  The boy is thinking that the sun is circular.  The grammar is fine.  All I could do was ask her to make another sentence to see if she could make a sentence that could actually be said in day-to-day life.

[Home Laptop]
As I was saying on the Ipad, I got on the bus, took my seat, pulled my Ipad out, opened my glass case which I kept in the outside pocket of my backpack, and realized I had forgotten my glasses. “I will have to get off at the next stop and walk home!” I lamented. (I also swore but that is another story. ) “I can go a day without glasses!” I thought before quickly realizing I was going to have to get off the next stop and walk back to Casa K to get my glasses because I couldn't go a day without my glasses. It cost me about 25 minutes – not that it mattered much. It was about 730 anyway and I didn't have to be at work until 1000.

I meet Jenny & Tony downtown. “What do you want to eat?” Jenny asked. “Ah don't know!” I replied. “Let's just go home!”

We did to go the local Tesco for some KFC. We took a motorcycle taxi home from there and the driver tried to charge us more than the usual rate. Jenny took exception so that the driver lost any advantage he was hoping to extract from us as he ended up with a long argument and brow-beating from my wife.

Sunday (May 5th)
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today. Hooray!

I am spending the afternoon at home – got some work to do. T&J are going downtown. J says T needs to have his photo taken.

I figured out this morning how to present sorted standings for my tournament program that I am writing in the Python language. It isn't an elegant solution for I am sure that there has to be a shorter way to do what I am trying to do, but it is a solution nonetheless.

I wish I could have taken a photo: The old people you sometimes see walking down the street are very interesting sights. They dress like they are still in Mao's China. They also look like types that one would have also seen in dynastic China. This afternoon, I saw one such elderly man walking down the street in front of the California Villa. He was barely five feet tall; he wore a Mao hat, glasses, a Mao jacket and pants; and he walked with a cane which he swung briskly as he made his way down the street. I didn't take a photo because I felt it would have been rude.

Flopsweat: this is a Vaudeville term I have picked up from Radio Derb's latest podcast. It describes a feeling that Vaudeville performers get when their performance is bombing with the audience. This is a sort of feeling I have all the time when I am teaching. I deal with it by knowing that I don't always strike out, and that in fact, I am like the hitter Dave Kingman who would either strike out ingloriously or hit the ball out of the park.

I have this cruel streak in me. I say cruel things. What can I say? I shouldn't never have said that boy was chubby.

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