Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Weekly: July 22 to July 28, 2013

Gratitude:  Thank God, I feel shame.

Acknowledgment: I have to admit that if I am scared to change. I really don't want to get out of my comfort zone.

Requests: Please visit Views of China from Casa Kaulins! Lots of interesting things to be seen if you spend a little time exploring it.

The AKIC Week in Brief: It has been a week of controversy and sweating here at AKIC. I wrote a blasphemous blog entry about Wuxi drivers, and clandestinely took photos of an incident at the government building that can be seen from the bedroom of my apartment that I call Casa Kaulins. I also made preparations for Tony's sixth birthday which will be on August 23rd. The average temperature for the week must have been 37 degrees Celsius.

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!  每天,我练习看中文词。每天,我读 Don Colacho。他是很好的思想家。

Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary! To be a proper Canadian, you have to support the monarchy. If it wasn't for the monarchy, there would be no Canada.

I am Canadian! I am reading a book about General Wolfe, the man who captured Quebec for England. Why? Because I am Canadian.

I am Latvian (sort of)! I say you can't trust the Russians, but they aren't all bad.

I teach English!  I hate getting one word answers from the students. Make sentences! I tell them.
I am not a freak! I am merely living in the wrong age at the wrong place and time.

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 #163 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 my reading of 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 Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and have just started to read the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians.

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. Finished. As with all Dickens, it was a great read.

A Tale of Red Pekin by Constance Serjeant. A story of missionaries in China at the time of the Boxer Rebellion – couldn't be written today.

The House of the Wolfings by William Morris. I read that this book was an inspiration for Lord of the Rings. It is written from the perspective of a Northern European people awaiting an invasion of the Romans. A much better thing to read than Game of Thrones.

Lumen Fidei by Pope Francis. I have read that it this encyclical is really Pope Benedict's doing.

The Winning of Canada: a Chronicle of Wolf. An interesting and short biography. They knew how to lead interesting lives back in the day.

I like to take photos

I like to make videos

I like to cut and paste quotations:
The righteous promise little and perform much; the wicked promise much and perform not even a little.
--- Talmud

From Don Colacho:
2730 The vice which afflicts the right is cynicism, and that which afflicts the left is deceit.
2735 The realism of photography is false: it omits in its representation of the object its past, its transcendence, its future.
2740 The spectacle of failure is perhaps less melancholy than the spectacle of triumph.
2742 When he repudiates rites, man reduces himself to an animal that copulates and eats.
2744 The reactionary's objection is not discussed; it is disdained.
2752 The day is made up of its moments of silence. The rest is lost time.[Beautiful!]
2754 The modern desire to be original makes the mediocre artist believe that simply being different is the secret to being original.
2755 Not all defeated men are decent, but all decent man end up being defeated.
2775 The politician never says what he believes to be true, but rather what he considers to be effective.
2788 Doubts do not fade one by one; they disappear in a flash of light.
2790 The only pellucid dialogue is one between two recluses. [Pellucid means translucently clear, lucid in style or meaning. Where is the other recluse that I can have a pellucid dialogue with? Email me at if you are the one.]
2791 Formulating the problems of today in a traditional vocabulary strips away their false pretenses.
2794 My convictions are the same as those of an old woman praying in the corner of a church.
2798 The most persuasive reason to renounce daring progressive opinions is the inevitability with which sooner or later the fool finally adopts them.
2805 A healthy constituted state is one where innumerable obstacles restrict and impede the freedom of the legislator.
2809 The embourgeoisement of Communist societies is, ironically, modern man's last hope. [This is so rich for someone who is living in China and seen its embourgeoisement. Many capitalists are coming here to save their companies. But is modern man worth saving?]
2811 Envy differs from the other vices by the ease with which it disguises itself as a virtue. [What an accurate observation of human nature.]
2812 Political activity ceases to tempt the intelligent writer, when he finally understands that there is no intelligent text that will succeed in ousting even a small-town mayor.
2813 In the intelligent man faith is the only remedy to anguish. The fool is cured by “reason,” “progress,” alcohol, work. [There are no such intelligent people in my life at the moment.] my mind, the fall of Vietnam into the hands of the Communists was among the great horrors of the 20th century. Those from the West whose vanity, wilful ignorance, moral indifference, & deceit served the Communist conquest, I have yet to forgive. So many went on to dominant positions in the world’s second-oldest profession.

Normal human beings,” I outrageously argued, “regardless of race, creed, color, or class, love pageantry, and babies. Let’s have more of both.”

I like to keep a journal of my daily activities and of any worthy thoughts that occur to me.
Monday [July 22]
[Home Laptop]
Not working today.

I looked out the window after waking up to see a group of people had unfurled a sign in front of the government building that is across the street from the Casa Kaulins apartment. Was it a protest? It seemed to be. The people were arguing with security and people who came out of the government building to talk to them. The group was taken inside the building, but twenty minutes or so later, they were back out front again displaying their sign. More security officials and black uniformed police types came upon the scene. An argument between the leader of the protest group and the head security guy took place. The sign was taken by the security officials. The protestors eventually got into their car and drove away. I took a lot of photos of the incident using the tele-focus feature on my old Ikon digital camera. I dare not be seen taking photos.

[iPod Touch]
I showed Jenny the photos I took of the incident in front if the government building.  She was able to read the sign which said that someone in the building had done a hit and run.  The group with the sign wanted compensation.

Tony and I just finished watching the 1976 film Gumball Rally.  Dated in a way that only 70s movies can,  I still enjoyed re-watching it.  I was satisfied to see that Tony enjoyed the movie like I thought he would. 

I am also watching Blade Runner.  Its style makes it a classic, even though I find the story lacking in drama.

Here is a theory about Chinese history I had never heard before. I was told of Chairman Mao's son dying in the war against American aggression in Korea. It is said that if Mao's son hadn't died, China could well have become a family dynasty like North Korea did become. This son would have been Mao's legitimate heir in '76. Mao did have other sons who were alive in '76, but one was simple-minded and I don't know what was wrong with the other one. Thank the powers that be that Mao's son did die in the Korean War. Thank you America!

Tuesday [July 23]
[Home Laptop]
I will work today.

It is another hot Wuxi summer morning. I wake up at 7:30 and can again feel the sweat beading in my pores.

I published this entry filled with expletives last night. Should I have? Well, Wuxi drivers are bad drivers. Of this there can be no doubt. And the Wuxi driver's lack of consideration for pedestrians is a damning indictment of the society that now exists in the city. I always worry about Jenny & Tony when they are in traffic situations. My biggest fear in life is losing them.

I am watching John Wayne's Hondo on the Ipad.

Tony had his haircut repaired. My wife took him to another salon yesterday to repair Sunday's bad one.

[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00. I arrive at work at 10:30. [LECTOR: Why do you say that? ANDIS: What? LECTOR: The I-arrive-so-early shit. ANDIS: Filler material, I suppose. It is not meant to be a proof of my virtue. If anything it is proof that I can be anal.]

Apropos the incident with the driver of the car that nearly drove down Tony, I remember having a premonition of them having trouble when they left the apartment. The last thing I told them was to be careful.

One-on-one classes with a student who will be studying in Sardis, British Columbia – a place I am familiar with, and where Tony & Jenny have been.

I almost forgot, as the many times I did when he was alive, that it is my father's birthday today. He would have been 81.

Can-Am Tourney #14 Chicago beats Atlanta 6-5 in the final.

Wednesday [July 25]
[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00 today. I arrive at school at 10:30.

Three incidents to report. First, a student told me that when she was young, she was walking with her grandmother when a truck ran over the grandmother, killing her. The student had no recollections of the incident taking place. Second, the husband of a cousin of Jenny, a man who I had seen a few times, a man who attended my wedding and Tony's 100 day party, is in jail for having run over and killed a child. The man, who had gang connections, had been driving chasing someone when the accident happened. Tony had played with the couple's daughter. Third, I took the 25 bus to work today and a collision resulted which resulted a mirror and frame being torn off the bus.

I phoned my Mom this morning. She will be placing flowers at father's grave to mark his birthday. The weather in Brandon, where she lives, is cool: 21 degrees Celsius. The city has sprayed for mosquitoes. She told me that there was extensive television coverage of the birth of the royal baby. She had watched an interesting documentary about the Gimli Glider: an Air Canada passenger plane that was forced to land on an old air strip because it had run out of fuel due to a confusion between metric and imperial fuel capacity numbers.

Here is a description of a foreigner that I will use in my beginner level introductions salon class:

Micheal Jones is a 52 year old engineer living in Wuxi. Currently, he isn't married. He has been married two times. With his first wife, he had a boy and a girl. With his second wife, he had a son. He now has a Russian girlfriend who is a dancer at many Wuxi hotels.

Micheal Jones is Canadian. His hometown is Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In his free time, Micheal likes to going to pubs, playing golf, swimming, playing X-box games, and dancing. He likes Chinese Food – his favorite kind of Chinese food is Sichuan. He says he can't go back to Canada because his ex-wives will try to get money from him.

I was listening to a podcast about Detroit and its bankruptcy. One thing I had been wondering about was how the city's hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings, were doing. Apparently, the Wings are doing quite fine because the city is putting in half the funds for a six hundred million dollar hockey arena. Talk about a mislaid set of priorities!!

Thursday [July 25]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 21:00 today. I get to work at 9:00ish. I will have three classes early today; from two to seven pm.: nothing; and then two classes to end the day. What a life!

I take the 602bus and then the 85 bus to work.

On the 85 bus, I saw an old male passenger and the back-of-the-bus worker (the 85 is a long bus) have a disagreement about the bus pass the man was using.

I got a ride home last night from a student who lives near the Wanda Plaza. I got home about 30 minutes earlier.

I finished watching the movie Hondo, starring John Wayne, last night. The movie was strangely sympathetic to the Apaches. John Wayne ended the film by saying that the Apache way of life was quite a life. Yet, they had a code by they were savages nonetheless.

I have been publishing model style photos of Tony here, here, and here. There are fifteen in all for you to look at. You are welcome to save them and add them to your collection of fab Tony photos.

I took a photo of a three-wheeled car! You at see it at Views of China from Casa Kaulins blog.

They say that today the high with be 41 degrees Celsius!

Despite the high temperatures, I went on a toy-hunting tour of the downtown which was disappointing not due to the heat but to the selection of toys. There were two places that I knew of in downtown Wuxi where one could buy Tomica toys, but after today's trip, I know there is but one. The place I was hoping to find some Tomica fire trucks not longer sold them. So, I went back to the store near my school with Tomica toys, and I found the selection to be quite disappointing. Now, I don't know what the heck I am going to buy Tony for his birthday.

Just as I had finished my toy-hunting trip, my wife phoned to complain that I had eaten all the bread at home, and so I had to go buy some bread at the 85 degree bakery. This would normally not be a problem but the 85 Bakery near our school is under renovation, and to get to the next nearest one would mean walking in the heat or taking a bus. I choose to walk to the 85 bakery at the Nanchang Temple, and was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn't a lineup like there would normally have been at the 85 bakery near our school.

Hearing about Japan's population shrinking, I should tell the Chinese it would be a good time to invade their rival. But instead of using men of military age, I would suggest to the Chinese that they use girls of middle-school age in the invasion. It would be interesting I think to see how the girls would match up with the old Japanese people who would be forced to defend the island. [LECTOR: Unless the Japanese use the robots...]

Jiangsu may be the source of China's debt nightmare! It wouldn't surprise me in the least. It seems that there is too much building going on here. I can't go anywhere without seeing a new apartment block or office building under construction.

Friday Morning [July 26]
[School Laptop]
I work 11:00 to 21:00 today. I arrived at school at 9:30.

On the way to work, I listened to two enjoyable podcasts. One was an interview with Tom Wolfe, the famous American novelist; and the other was a Q&A session with Rex Murphy, the famous Canadian pundit. Both were well-read, humorous, and joyful.

From Wolfe, I am lead to consider the future of the U.S.A. There can be no doubt that the 20th century was an American century. If you don't believe this, you have to look at 21st century China. But what about America's future? Wolfe believes that there will be many American centuries to come. Why? America has no opposition. The current strong members of the opposition: China and the European Union have too many problems. China despite its economic power has no cultural power. Hollywood movies are watched by many Chinese – Chinese films, in foreign markets, are an acquired taste. But what about America's fiscal mess and the Obama presidency? I believe Americans can recover from these difficulties. They have before, and despite all their many problems, particularly moral, they have a loud, strong, and brash presence – to dominate is in their genes, as is their tremendous generosity. When there is trouble in the world, the world looks to what America. They don't look to China, the U.N., and the E.U.

From Murphy, I got three things for my mind to munch over. First, a love for Canada. Hearing people from Surrey, Ottawa, and Newfoundland talking was sweet. Second, a need to be skeptical. He was asked what advice he had for aspiring journalists. He said that journalists have to resist the urge to look at the world through their belief structure. Third, he talked about Obama's oratory ability. He said Obama was a good orator but had terrible speech writers who made bad allusions and had terrible grammar. I never listen to Obama but I do try to read his speeches. I find he has nothing particularly original or memorable to say.

My watchband broke this morning, and so out of habit, I have been looking at a white band of skin when I need to know the time. I will have to rely on my Ipod Touch to get the time, for the time being.

Tony got another bruise around his eye last night. Rare regular readers may remember that one Saturday night in the pre-Wanda Plaza era, Tony blackened his eye when he stumbled and fell on a chair when performing Ultraman fighting actions. The incident happened at a restaurant and so we had to take Tony to the hospital. Last night, Tony was jumping on the bed while covering his head with a blanket. I don't know where he got the idea to do this, but he had been doing this for a month despite my repeatedly warning him not to. I hope he learned to stop doing this as as last night he banged his head against a shelf that is bolted to the wall above the bed and so bruised his eye enough that he looked like a boxer.

Somewhere on the Internet last night, I read an article scoffing at the notion that foreign languages can be learned conversationally. That is, it was very dismissive of the idea of using conversation as the main tool in a second-language class room.

Why believe? Two reasons. One: because it is true. Two: because it is the most authentic pose one can have if it isn't. If it isn't true, our existence is so small and insignificant that we need the idea of it to make our existence meaningful.

In a word without meaning, poses are the only things that matter because they occupy the now which is all there is. A pose that shows others that one is so beyond the immediate now, but higher, is cool. A pose of faith is thus, paradoxically, the only pose one can take if one wants to be really so beyond everything that exists.

Saturday [July 27]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 18:00 today.

Nothing to blog about this morning that I feel I should blog about. I am a pissy mood and I will probably type something that I will regret, though to be honest that hasn't stopped me before.

I listened to a podcast that said truckers may soon be out of jobs as that profession will become automated.

What are they going to do? What am I going to do?

Last night, a student told me an interesting anecdote. His father had a boat, one of those long barge large boats that go up and down the waterways of China, and he had a dog. One day, the dog jumped onto a passing boat. Three months later, the two boats passed and the dog was returned to its original boat. The master of the boat, that had been passing, told the student's father that the dog hadn't liked what it had been fed for the past three months. (That was all the details that I could ring out of the student.)

Also one of the students in that class had a cat or dog named Ding Dong.

I am tired. The heat is getting to me. Thank God I will soon have days off.

[Home Laptop]
After work, I went to the Wanda Plaza where I met the rest of the China Family Kaulins at a Korean BBQ restaurant. I didn't think I ate that much but when I stood up to take Tony to the WC, I felt stuffed.

Having ruined a polo shirt on Monday by dropping greasy food on the front of it, I had my wife purchase me two polo shirts at the local Uni-Glo where one can also buy Sex Pistols t-shirts. It leads me to ask the following: Who would have thunk it: that I would be living in China and able to purchase a Sex Pistols shirt?

I twisted my left ankle this evening. After having parked our e-bike in what used to be the office of the California Villa sales office, I walked through an exit and thought to take a look at a piece of pavement that had just recently been set. I had in fact driven over this newly set pavement, and I wanted to see if I had left any tracks. The new pavement was off to the right of my path, and it was also dark, so I made a misstep when stepping off a building sidewalk onto a lower pathway. The step was probably no more than six inches high and I have probably taken it hundreds of time in the five years I have lived at the California Villa. Tonight however, I, instead of stepping straight forwards with my left foot, stepped downwards at an angle of 45 degrees off kilter so that my left ankle buckled as I put my full weight on it, and I ended up stumbling onto the ground, dropping the bag I was carrying and the eyeglasses I had placed in my t-shirt. I swore as I was falling and I worried that the worst had happened. Thankfully it didn't and I lived to make my way back to Casa Kaulins. I don't felt much pain at the moment but I worry that the ankle may start to swell. As it is, I can't bend my left foot fully...

Sunday [July 28]
[Home Laptop]
It is 37 degrees outside, that be in Celsius.

It my day off from going to school.

How is my left ankle today? Sore if I put pressure on it, but I am not in agony.

What to do today? That is the question. I think I will go back to bed. I don't even know what I want do.

Two things: I need razors – I buy these Schick disposables; and I need a new wristband for my Swiss Army Watch – I wear it because it was the watch my father was wearing when he passed away.

I am spending the day at home taking photos for the Views of China from Casa Kaulins blog, watching the fifth season of The Wire (I have just watched the fifth episode), drinking hot tea (at 37 degrees Celsius), reading The House of the Wolfings, reading The Winning of Canada: a Chronicle of Wolf, and eating ice cream.

I should end this week's blog entry with this thought. I don't have the link but somewhere I read something that should guide my parenting of Tony. Most people these days, said the writer, want their children to be the richest, smartest, the most worldly successful, and best-looking when they really should only care if their child is a good person.

That is all I am going to want from Tony.

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