Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Week in the Life of a Reactionary Dude Who Lives in Wuxi, China: July 8 to July 14, 2013

Gratitude:  I should be thankful for the same things I was last week. I have a wife and a son.

Acknowledgment: I am not a generous person with my time and my money. Tony only ameliorates this tendency somewhat. Also, my belief is but luke-warm.
Requests: Visit the newest Views of China from Casa Kaulins blog.

The AKIC Week in Brief: It was sunny and hot all week, but unfortunately, it was a Wuxi summer heat combined with a humidity and so the week was an ordeal. All I did this week was work and sweat, and yet strangely, I felt serene. The students only momentarily annoyed me – none brought out my usual feelings of loathing.

About AKIC: If you want to learn what Andis & AKIC are all about, you can visit here.

If there are things you don't know about, like places and people I mention, you can go here to find out what they are all about.

AKIC Weekly Features:

I in in China!  这个星期的天气是太热了。我不喜欢无锡的夏天。

Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary!  A week of not having to think about Obama is bliss for me! Palin in 2016! The only political thing that annoyed me this week was the latest econtalk podcast. (A previous one annoyed me as well.)

I am Canadian! I have lived in Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and British Columbia. My sister lives in Chilliwack; my brother lives in Winnipeg; and my mother lives in Brandon. I spend a few moments this week contemplating the Montreal Expos not winning the 1980 National League East pennant.

I am Latvian (sort of)! My mother has been able to make a return trip to Latvia – one since she and her family had to flee the Soviets.

I teach English!  At my school, we are at our busy time of the year as students, on vacation from their schools, lounge around in our A/C.
I am not a freak! But then again maybe I am. I have my uniqueness and my eccentricities of genius
I like to Read! Here is what I had been working my way through the past 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 the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #161 this week and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished reading it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible King James Version.   I am reading a chapter a day of the greatest book of all-time. I have finished the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and have just started to read the Second.

Columns by Father Schall. I have been able to take all his archived writings and place them on the Dotdotdot app.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Like Father Schall's writings, I have been able to place them on the Dotdotdot app.

Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I like Pickwick's servant Samuel Weller, and I like this novel. For as the Pope said after reading the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time, the novel is one good book!

The first encyclical from Pope Francis.

I like to take photos

I like to make videos
Here is my Youtube Channel and my Youku Channel. Here are three videos I uploaded this week: Views of China of Casa Kaulins #7; 17 Short Videos of Life in Wuxi, China; and 20 Short Videos of Life in Wuxi, China.

I like to cut and paste quotations:
This week's Don Colacho quotes. I wasn't able to pare the list down to eight:
2591 The relativity of taste is an excuse adopted by ages that have bad taste. [This explains tattoos.]
2603 A decision that is not a little crazy does not deserve respect. [This is an age that doesn't go in for boldness, which thinks to be classified as a moderate is a virtue.]
2610 “To belong to a generation,” rather than necessity, is a decision made by gregarious minds.
2613 The common man lives among phantasms; only the recluse lives among realities.
2615 Only the unexpected fully satisfies. {Three on Tuesday!}
2629 Nothing makes clearer the limits of science than the scientist's opinions about any topics that is not strictly related to his profession. [Einstein was a Socialist.]
2632 A valiant and daring thought is one that does not avoid the commonplace.
2634 Our neighbor irritates us because he seems to us like a parody of our own defects. [That can explain some aspects of anti-Americanism. American culture being so visible, many can't resist the temptation to mock it. But in doing so, these people mock themselves.]
2637 Modern man is ignorant of the positive quality of silence. He does know that there are many things of which one cannot speak without automatically disfiguring him.
2641 The most notorious thing about every modern undertaking is the discrepancy between the immensity and complexity of the technical apparatus and the insignificance of the final product.
2642 When it finishes its “ascent,” humanity will find tedium waiting for it, seated on the highest peak.
2655 There is something definitively vile about the man who only admits equals, who does not tirelessly seek out his betters. [Does this apply to me, or doesn't it? That is the question I have to ask myself. Keeping to myself on the pretense of seeking solitude, I don't seek to deal with people who are really my equals; but I also don't tirelessly seek out my betters out of shame.]
2661 Few ideas do not turn pale before a fixed glare. [So true!]

Eccentricities of genius…EXCERPT FROM Dickens, Charles. “The Pickwick Papers.” [I can use that phrase to justify all the strange things I do..... like this blog and my other blogs!!!]

From Heretics by GK Chesterton and his essay about Rudyard Kipling:

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. Nothing is more keenly required than a defence of bores.

The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant. [Why is it that I like to take photos of the peasants I see in Wuxi and never of the Expats who get to travel all the time? And do you notice that travelers have to go to localities to see things? They figure by looking at the local they are bigger. But as GKC says, they have to be part of it, to be bigger than what they are.]

The man standing in his own kitchen-garden, with fairyland opening at the gate, is the man with large ideas. His mind creates distance; the motor-car stupidly destroys it. [The Chinese had a genius for building walled little properties, but they appear to be losing it as more and more of them have cars so they can visit tourist sites which are nothing but walled properties of notables from their past.]

I like to keep a journal of my daily activities and of any worthy thoughts that occur to me.
[This journal records the events that I can talk about. In fact, a lot happens that I can't talk about, though I try to allude to these happenings with my thoughts which I will record in this journal. As well, I don't blog about people I happen to know. I scrupulously try to avoid mentioning names, except if I happen to have something good to say about them. [LECTOR: You rarely have anything good to say about people, I notice. ANDIS: Uh-huh!]]

Monday [July 8]
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today.

It is going to be another slow day. The heat is already too much I feel as I type in this sentence in the morning.

Tuesday [July 9]
[School Laptop]
I will say it again. It was a slow day yesterday. Because it was so hot, I and the rest of the Kaulins crew stayed in doors. Tony watched Youtube videos on the Home Laptop. I read Pickwick Papers and other articles on the Ipad.

In the evening, I took Tony, via E-bike, to the Wanda Plaza. There, I went to the Bread Talk and bought myself a loaf of bread. Tony asked for a cheesecake, and we bought and then ate it in the shop. I then took Tony to the KFC to buy a drink – the McDonald’s already having closed. The lineup at the KFC was long enough that Tony could play at the restaurant's playground. I then went to the Xinjiang Restaurant to buy some bread – three rmb for a 10 inch round pizza-crust-like piece – I bought two. Tony had hoped to go to the Toy section of the Wanda department store to look at the 129 rmb fire engine but, thankfully, the store was closing its doors.

Our appearance was noted by the many other shoppers in the mall. We were the only pair of foreigners and we stood out like sore thumbs – Tony was a particular source of interest.

Two men on a E-bike noticed and I could clearly hear them speak of the Laowai.

I work 13:00 to 21:00 today. I arrive at the school at 11:00. First thing, I do is GAR; then I write this blog entry.

I took the 25 bus, sitting on the side of the bus that wasn't shaded. The other side, the passenger side, was where everyone else sat. I didn't suffer so much when the bus was moving. It was just when the bus stopped, to pick up passengers and the like, that I could feel the heat.

When the 25 was by the Baoli Mall, I saw an older man, of peasant stock, standing in front of a car that had been stopped at the light. Out of the corner of my eye, the man had caught my attention by pushing against the car and then striking the car's hood with open palms. As I passed close to him, I wanted to take a photo of him defiantly standing in front of the car and not letting it move forward, but the camera app on my Ipod didn't open fast enough as the bus drove away. I can only speculate what it was that the driver had done to anger the man, and how it was that the situation was resolved. I suppose the driver could have backed up and tried to speed around the man, but there were probably too many other cars around for the driver to try this. Had the driver hit the man with his car?

I moved my Views of Casa Kaulins Blog from blogspot to wordpress yesterday. You can visit both blogs. I will use the blogspot blog to publicize the Youtube videos. If you explore both sights, you will see a lot of how China is developing. You can see BMW cars, peasants on bicycles, and machines from the 1950s still being used.

Wednesday [July 10]
[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00 today. I arrive at school at 11:30.

I haven't called in sick for a day of work since I moved in Wuxi in September 2004. No drunken nights, no hangovers, no stomach problems have kept me from my duty! Knock on wood.

Tony borrowed a toy last night that really got him excited.

Econtalk had an interview with a self-described moderate middle-of-the-road political scientist who claims that what he called radicals, wingnuts, and activists kept Parties from winning elections. “If all the people with unacceptable opinions would go away, we would have government that was satisfying!” was his basic lament. Doesn't he realize that people with opinions can influence what happens. The squishes become putty in the hands of Stalinists who slowly mold what accepted opinion should be.

Another hot day.

July 11 [Thursday]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 21:00 today.

Last night I was on the bus, witnessed something, and then typed the following about it into my Ipod:

E-bike on fire!  I am on the bus.   Bystanders take out cameras to record images.  No time to take out my camera.  The bus passes too quickly.  No need.  The bike is completely engulfed in flame.  That image will be sheered in my brain.  I shudder at the thought of my wife & son riding our e-bike. [When I arrived home, I told Jenny. She told me that this sort of thing has been in the news almost everyday. The hot weather is causing cheaply built E-bikes to burst aflame. Riders on the bikes don't notice till the flames come.]

It was uncomfortably humid at the bus stop this morning. I could feel the sweat beading all over my body. Shade was no relief – I should have had a hand fan. I suppose it is the hottest day of the year.

Last night, a student talked of temperatures as high as 39 Celsius.

This morning, I took the 602bus, transferring, after a ten minute wait, to an 81 bus that was so crowded that I couldn't make my way to its second deck. The ten minute wait was an ordeal, as was standing on the 81 bus where a short old woman kept elbowing me in the crotch.

The McDonald’s near the school had closed off the room where I used to always eat my big breakfast. The room seems to have been taken over by the next door Gome Appliance store. This changes my morning breakfast routine. No longer will I be having the big breakfast – at least not in Summer while the place is so crowded with children.

Two birthdays coming for which I must make preparations. My late father's birthday is on July 23rd. My son's birthday is on August 23rd (sadly, Tony was born on a dark day in Latvian history for it was on that date the Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the infamous pact that doomed the Baltic States to subjugation.) For my father's birthday, I will publish a good photo of him – in fact there are many to choose from. (After seeing my father's photos there are none of myself of which I can be proud.) I also hope to do a good write-up about him. God! How I miss him! His voice which I took for granted while he lived, would be sweet poetry to hear now. As for my son's birthday, I will look for a suitable fire engine toy. I had been hoping to buy him some kind of fire station. Having just gone to the Ba Bai Ban toy store, I didn't see anything that quite fit the bill, though if worse come to worse, there are a few toys there that would please him.

Walking out of the school at noon, was like, to use the over-used expression, walking into a furnace.

For supper, I have just gone to Dico's: a KFC like chicken restaurant, from Taiwan, that is next door to the school. The place always give me strange service. My orders always seem to be a problem for them. Their staff also look to have no clue about what they are supposed to be doing. What takes one worker to do at McDonald’s, takes three at Dico's. Today, the service was alright, however the floor by the counter was sticky and was enough to pull my slip-on shoes. “While you are stuck here, perhaps I could interest you in our newest dish....”

July 12 [Friday]
[School Laptop]
I work 11:00 to 21:00 today. I arrive at school at 9:15. Boy oh boy! Am I a keen worker!

Last night, my 635 companion was asking me the following questions: Does this last for two months? Why would you choose to live here? She was talking about Wuxi's unbearable summer heat. Her questions threw me off because I am usually the one who is asking the Chinese person about local conditions. After she asked me these questions and I regained my sense of balance, I asked her if this was her first summer in Wuxi. [Asking a question that I know the answer to is my way of saying I have regained my balance. Yes!] She confirmed my suspicion. She is from Shandong, and she told me that she wanted to get back to there now that she had spent a summer in Wuxi. She mentioned a detail that I hadn't thought of. Sitting on the bus seats, she said, she had to sit straight because they were much dirtier in Summer due to..... sweat. I didn't ask her if she meant sweat, but it got me to thinking about a bad aspect of public transportation.

There had been a battery factory fire in Wuxi I learned from a student who I teach Tuesday and Thursday and is an engineer. The conversation came up after I told him about the E-Bike fire I had seen on Wednesday night. He told me that the fire at the battery factory was so all-engulfing that the firemen had no choice but to let it burn itself out. Water wasn't sprayed on the factory but on the buildings next to it. He also told me about a forest fire in Sichuan where the authorities decided to burn a two kilometer wide swath of woods in front of the fire's path. There was no way they could put out the fire. The only thing they could do was to stop feeding it by burning wood in front of it – sounded like Russia's scorched earth way of dealing with invading armies.

This morning, Tony was up early. Seven AM! It would have been nice but Tony got it into his head to ask me to let him use the laptop. To coax me to do this, he showed me a photo I had taken with my Ipod where he was playing on the computer. He then tried emotional blackmail on me – crying and whining as maudlinly as he could . I refused him, and then had to ask him to go back to bed. Maybe, there was a method to Tony's madness. I want to sleep in, thinks Tony, so I will make my parents want me to go back to bed.

It isn't the hottest day of the year. Yesterday seemed hotter to me.

Saturday [July 13]
I didn't sleep well last night on account of the heat, there only being a fan on, and Tony doing gymnastics while sleeping. How I was able to be up at six AM is a mystery to me.

I work 10:00 to 18:00. Regular AKIC readers may have noticed that I am inserting colons into my times. I think it looks nicer.

I just listened to the latest episode of Radio Derb. He mentioned that a woman in France had married a bridge: The Pont du Diable or something to that effect. AKIC devotees, if there are any, may remember that I liked to publish stories of Wuxi Expats marrying inanimate objects in my satirical Wuxi China Expatdom blog. I had a German marry his long underwear, an English Teacher marry his Thesaurus, a woman marry the Ling Shan Buddha, a male expat marry the Taihu tunnel, two expats experience overlap as they felt in love with overlapping sections of the Wuxi Metro line near the Boston Glory apartment complex, and an American marry a box of ball-bearings. One of my favorite WCE headlines was Wuxi Expat Marries Battleship. And of course, I had expats marry the Moresky360 and Hongduo buildings – two of Wuxi's many skyscrapers. Anyway, the point of my telling you this, beside getting you to visit the WCE blog, is to show how prescient I was in making the Wuxi China Expatdom the first jurisdiction in the world to grant licenses to human – inanimate object marriages. It was a great take on the current gay marriage silliness.

I do get these email updates from MLB that tell me the score of the previous day's baseball games. Not really having skin in the game – that is, I don't have a team to cheer for, I do like to try to answer their trivia question of the day. I am proud to say that I answered two questions right. I knew that Fred Lynn was the only player to hit a grand slam home run in an All-Star game, and that Gary Carter was the last player to hit two home runs in an All-Star game. Knowing the last fact made me emotional as I recalled Carter's recent premature death.

I waited twenty minutes for the bus this morning, and still got to work at 9:00.

When I arrived home last night, Tony continued to ask me to let him use my laptop so he could watch computer game firetrucks – firetruck simulator.

As I left the apartment this morning, I saw a frail old man climbing the stairs to get to an apartment that was above ours. He had a cane, was bow-legged, hunched-over, with an expression of exertion on his face. He was accompanied by two middle-aged men who I could hear blurt waiguoren as they got a floor above me.

No gay pride parades in Wuxi. What does that tell you?

Our school also doesn't run sexual harassment seminars. The foreign males don't need this sort of training because they already know how to sexually harass the pretty young things that work here. We would have to run these seminars for the males who seem like dead stolid stiffs when it comes to women. Or do I have the wrong idea about the objectives of sexual harassment seminars.

They were lining up properly at the McDonald's this morning, and so they were lined up right out the door. Good on this Chinese lineup and this group of Chinese.

Sunday [July 14]
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today. My wife talked of going to the Xinjiang Restaurant at the Wanda Plaza for dinner.

It is hot again and I have turned on the A/C in the study where I am working on this blog entry.
I finished watching the first episode of season five of the Wire last night.

The K family went to the Wanda Plaza last night. Andis saw a male foreigner in the Mall and may have been seen by him, but the foreigner went on his way. He had a fat head, was accompanied by a tall Chinese woman, and wore blue jeans. Andis notices that foreigners more often than not try to not notice the other foreigner if they happen to run into each other.

Andis has seen two foreigners in Wanda. The other was a woman who he sometimes sees walking down the road that runs in front of Casa Kaulins and is often shown on Views of China from Casa Kaulins.

Andis was in the H&M store in the Wanda. (It wasn't his idea to go there.) A boy saw him, walked by and screamed laowai twice to his father. Andis got annoyed and screamed laowai back at the pair. If he could have spoken more Chinese, he would have said something along the line of “That was f***ing rude, you DBs!”

Tony got out of bed, looked out the window, and saw a police motorcycle. He has just run into the office to tell me this.

Tony, I notice, says thank you with a Wuxi accent.

This afternoon, I watched the film Reality Bites on my Ipad. I had originally seen it in the cinema in Winnipeg, Manitoba when it was released some twenty years ago. I remember not being impressed with it at the time – it was trying too hard to be iconic, for the so-called generation X. I also found Ethan Hawke's performance to be off-putting. His cleverness didn't seem to be very clever to me at all. Watching the film again didn't change my view of it. I had to wonder how it could be said that the movie was iconic, and yet it was said to have been by someone from National Review! Wiona Ryder falling for the Ethan Hawke character in the end seemed to prove the adage that women prefer bad boys to good boys. Ben Stiller's character, despite being so corporate, was the good guy of the story. Ethan Hawke would have been a character worth cheering for if he was like Don Colacho. Colacho was a bookworm who looked down on the modern world with real intelligence and from a medieval viewpoint – not from Hawke's character's anarchistic and fashionable pose.

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