Gratitude: I am thankful I have a wife who prays.
Acknowledgment: I do things out of pure pique.
The AKIC Week in Brief: Another week of Summer over and done with. With the temperatures still hot, I became lackadaisical in doing my daily chores and rituals whether for myself or my wife. Highlight of the week was getting two emails from and old friend and an old acquaintance.
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! 我住在中国九个年。这个星期 是太热了。我不喜欢无锡的夏天。
I am Canadian! I am thinking of the Manitoba prairie now. I am thinking of the snow and the cold; and how I have lived it and survived it.
I am Latvian (sort of)! The old Latvians in my family are dying off. Will I ever hear a Latvian accent again? Alas, I probably won't.
Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary! I always harken, in an ironic manner, to a time in the past where people were more enlightened than they think they are now.
I teach English! I feel like I am more of a conversation facilitator.
I am not a freak! If there was bell distribution of freaks and their authentic freakishness quotient, based on extensive surveys of all the people there are, and ever were, I would be on the tail where the freakishness quotients are low.
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 #166 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 Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians, and am now reading 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.
Four Men by Hilaire Belloc. Grizzlebeard, the Sailor, the Poet, and Myself are the four men. They travel and talk. It gives me an idea for a book and a blog. The pdf copy of the book I was reading was missing a few pages so I had to interrupt reading the book till I found a better copy on the Internet.
Diary of a Nobody by Weedon Goldsmith. I don't know if I got this book because I liked the title or because I found a recommendation for it on the Web. Either way, I like it. It is funny! Mister Gowing is coming, and Mister Cummings is going! What fun!
I like to take photos
I like to make videos
I like to cut and paste quotations:
From Don Colacho:
2954: Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.” The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense. The simple suggestions of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man.[But hasn't technology really changed things?]
2955: Those who insist on being up to date with today's fashion are less irritating than those who try too hard when they do not feel that they are up to date with tomorrow's fashion. The bourgeoisie is aesthetically more tolerable than the avant-garde.
2958: A bureaucracy ultimately always ends up costing the people more than an upper class.
2962: Unlimited gullibility is required to be able to believe that any social condition can be improved in any other way than slowly, gradually, and involuntarily.
2965: If ones does not believe in God, the only honest alternative is vulgar utilitarianism.
2972: Fashion, even more than technology, is the cause of the modern world's uniformity.[To rebel these days is to conform.]
2973: In the Modern State there now exists only two parties: citizens and bureaucracy.[If you don't work for the government, you live with the fear of maybe one day having to eat grass and bark while the bureaucrats go on nice vacations.]
2974: Society until yesterday had notables; today it only has celebrities.[Clinton and Obama are celebrities.]
2975: The Modern metropolis is not a city, it is a disease.
2976: When Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.
2978: Nobody in politics can foresee the consequences either of what he destroys, or of what he constructs.
2980: It is not just that human trash accumulates in cities – it is that cities turn what accumulates in them into trash.
2983: The Gospels and the Communist Manifesto are on the wane; the world's future lies in the power of Coca-Cola and pornography. [Game of Thrones is indicative of this.]
2985: Envy tends to be the true force behind moral indignation. [Obama 2012 won the election by cynically exploiting this fact of human nature.]
2988: Writing is the only way to distance oneself form the century in which it was one's lot to be born. [I love this because I wish it was true.]
I fashion myself to be a 21st Century Pepys
Monday [August 12]
I didn't work. I didn't do much other than watch a film called Mean Streets starring Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro. The film was nothing special. I enjoyed A Bad Day at Black Rock ,which I had watched the day before, much more.
I took Tony downtown so we could look at toy stores in anticipation of his sixth birthday coming on August 23rd. I now have a good idea what I will buy him.
Tuesday [August 13] [Chinese Lover's Day]
I work today 13:00 to 21:00. I arrive at the school at 11:00.
The hot weather continues. As I waited for the bus, I stood under the shade of a tree.
I took the 25 bus downtown. When it came to its terminal stop near Nanchang market, I went to the 85 degree bakery and bought two loaves of bread.
At the Parkson's supermarket, yesterday, Jenny bought a toy for Tony that contained a lollipop – the type that is shaped like an orb and not a flat disk. The lollipop was encased in the toy car. To get the lollipop, you had to open the toy car which was really a small plastic case with snap-on lid shaped like a toy car; but this proved not so easy to do. Tony, Jenny, and I all made attempts, for two hours, to open the car but couldn't get it done. It was Tony who was finally able to do it as we were walking to Casa Kaulins “Daddy! I opened the car!” were five words which surprised me and filled me with pride. “You are smarter than Mom & Dad!” I told him.
As I walked to the 85 Bakery this morning, I saw people holding bunches of roses for sale. It must be 7/7 which is China Lover's Day, I thought. The 7/7 means the seventh day of the seventh month on the traditional Chinese calendar. I confirmed that it was 7/7 with the estimable Edith, a new study adviser at our school, and phoned my wife to tell her I took our the garbage from the bathroom.
Why do Americans electrocute their pigs when they slaughter them? some Chinese students asked me. I couldn't answer that question, having no idea how the Americans killed their pigs and having always assumed that they used machines with lots of blades in them to turn pigs into bacon and delicious ham.
Wednesday [August 14]
I work 13:00 to 21:00. I arrive at school at 10:40.
Last night, the students told me that in America, children can take their parents to court. The students thought this was a good thing.
My last student of the day, yesterday, confirmed my suspicions that restaurants were very crowded on account of yesterday being Chinese Lovers Day.
Last night, Tony was at the public square near Casa Kaulins. A boy apparently kicked Tony in the chest and left a footprint on Tony's shirt. Tony was knocked to the ground and got a cut on his knees. Jenny wanted to chase the boy down but Tony told her not to.
Cuts and bruises are parts of growing up, so there is no point in worrying about them per se. But the manner in which Tony got his injuries last night was worrying. Of course, I don't know what lead to the incident. Tony could have been playing Ultraman with the boy and provoked him.
This morning, I took the 602支 to get downtown. My plan was to get off at a stop near a 85 bakery where I was going to buy another loaf of wheat bread. On the bus, I read my Chinese textbook, a passage from the Bible, and entries of a Diary of a Nobody. When I got downtown, I got off at my normal stop which was not a stop near a 85 Bakery. So, I got on a 79 Bus, took it two stops to get to a stop near a 85 bakery where I bought my loaf of wheat bread. Loaf of wheat bread in my hand, I then caught the 81 double-decker bus and got to school.
Entering school, someone saw me with the bag of bread and asked if I had brought my lunch. “No, I am taking the bread home tonight!” I said.
Speaking of the Iliad, which I did in last week's blog entry, I did see a wooden Trojan horse on wheels figure at Kawaii.
I just had that student named Stella in class. I was quiet with her. I didn't yell STELLA!!!!
I got an email from a man who has spent ten years teaching English in China. Punk kids, he tell me, come over, get drunk, come to school hung over and show movies, and then have sex with the students. Awesome. That is ESL in a nutshell. Those who aren't like that end up as a lefty social worker wannabees.
Thursday [August 15]
The 85 Bakery next to our school will re-open on August 18th. Hurray! Although I don't plan on going to the bakery on that particular day. It will be very crowded!
I work 10:00 to 21:00 today. I arrive at the school at 9:00.
I take the 602支 to school today. I was thinking to take the 602, but decided, rather hesitantly to not, and then immediately thought that, as it pulled away that I should have taken it because I hadn't seen the new metro bridge for two weeks – bridge construction interests me. Downtown, I decided to get off at the stop I should have gotten off at the day before. A change in routine now or then is a good thing.
The electric razor that I inherited from my father fell apart this morning. I will have to see if I can find replacement parts for it. I loved the thing, and I hate to lose any legacy items I have from my father.
I went to get my breakfast from McDonalds. Only one cash register was open and there was a lineup seven people long when I came in. Amazingly, the customers were lined up and not bunched around the register as is the Wuxi habit. A second till opened, and five people raced over to it. I stood where I was and got to be second in line – not that it mattered for my exotic foreigner order was not processed quickly, and I saw that the people who had ordered after me, had gotten their orders filled more quickly and were out the door as I stood looking at my watch, ruing the Chinese taste in crappy breakfast sandwiches.
Last night, I finished watching S21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine. The documentary featured interviews with survivors; and with the guards who worked in the prisons, and did the tortures and the killings. Grim stuff to watch. The film ended with some of the members of S21 explaining and demonstrating the procedures involved in executions. Instead of being shot in the back of the head, the victims were blindfolded, hit in the back of the neck with a metal rod and then had their throats cut. Their bodies were then thrown into pits that had already been dug....
Last night, Tony made his first purchase in a store. He went to the corner shop with five rmb and bought two bottles of ice tea.
I got it into my head to listen to some Guns N' Roses. I don't why I did. It was a dumb notion and all I had to do was listen to half a song to realize it was so.
The kids I had in my class about disasters did not know about the famines caused by the Great Leap Forward or about SARS. These two items were telling for different reasons. Together it said something about how long I had been in China, the youth of the students, and what they are taught about history.
Friday [August 16]
I work 11:00 to 21:00 today. For what it's worth, and I know it isn't worth much, I arrive at school at 9:45. [LECTOR: Why? ANDIS: I should get out of Casa Kaulins before Tony wakes up. It makes life easier.]
Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, I looked in on Tony who awoke from his slumber and told me that he felt like having pizza that day. When I got home last night, I saw there was left over pizza from Pizza Hut in the kitchen. Now, what I would love to do is to be able to take the above sentence and sub in other words into it for “pizza” like “Crown Royal” or “Beijing Roast Duck.”
This morning, I took the 602支 bus to downtown and then transferred to the 79 bus to get to the school. [LECTOR: Oh! That is so interesting. ANDIS: I did it to get a reaction from you. LECTOR: So if you have nothing to say, you try to get a rise out of me eh? ANDIS: I see you are Canadian. LECTOR: Well, I am a figment of your depraved imagination.]
Just had some student ask me questions for a video survey he was doing of foreigners in Wuxi. My feelings about Wuxi are quite complex so I fell back on screaming platitudes just to get it over with.
Me: Make a sentence with “apologize.”
Student: I'm sorry. I don't know what “apologize” means.
No 18:00 class. I wait for a 19:00 and 20:00 class. As I wait, I am thinking I don't want Tony to use my Ipad tonight. He has been using it every night this week and I can't wrest from him so I can read a book.
Saturday [August 17]
I work 10:00 to 18:00. It is my Saturday.
Much to my horror, Tony awoke with me this morning. That is, he was up at six AM. I had the laptop on overnight so I could upload some torrents (the films Monte Walsh, The Man from Laramie, Broken Arrow – 1950, Of Gods and Men, and A Man for All Seasons) and Tony saw the computer and wanted to get his Shaun the Sheep fix. I let him have it because I didn't need to deal with his fussing so early in the morning, but I declared that I would turn off the computer before I left for work. As the time got close for my departure, it seemed like I was in for a confrontation. Tony always pretends to not be concerned with my declarations that I will take the computer or the Ipad away, but then starts wailing and kicking up a storm when I follow through. He was quiet this morning so I put off taking the computer away. Finally, though, just as I had to go to work, I turned off the computer expecting the worst; but Tony just sighed and walked into the living room to turn on the television. Sometimes, Tony can surprise us with good behavior.
A young male student has a pencil case which said the following: “Hello, I am mister happy. I want to be your friend.” I showed this to a fellow trainer and he laughed.
Sunday [August 18]
Not working today. We are to go to Nanchang Temple. Jenny is up early this morning. I get up after her. I first go to computer to see the status of my uploads and downloads. Youtube upload failed – further attempts seem hopeless. So, I take photos of Tony and of the outside for my two photo blogs. Still sleepy, I decide to do the blog entry in stream-of-consciousness style.
I watched the 1975 movie Nashville. It had lots of musical performances but not much of a story and yet is still said to be a classic by some, or so I read in the Wikipedia entry and I then started to watch a Man for all Seasons about Thomas More and King Henry the 8th.
Back to bed where I will hug my Tony....
Out of bed. Jenny has left the apartment. She is going to Nanchang Temple to pray to the Buddha for the health and wealth of Tony & me. Sunday morning. I should be going too, but I passively and wishfully think of doing it and put it off till some unforeseen time in the future.
I can hear a good photo coming by but I left my camera in the other room and so don't have enough time to take it.
Jenny comes back. She forgot her phone. I was on the toilet having a morning sit but she had to go and so she wasn't happy because of the odor and I am not happy because of the interruption of my pleasant morning ritual.
Tony keeps sleeping. When will he get up?
I should think of something LECTOR would say. When I think, do I capitalize the words? Silly. Very silly. Let it happen. Don't force it. I hear someone is using a power tool possibly for apartment decoration. Into my head pops the question of whether the bakery near our school is buy today on account of it being the opening day.
Now an idea for a short film. Short shot of X. Hi I am X and I am a role model. Next shot. Boy in wheelchair with cast on leg and arm and bandaged head declares that X is his role model. Then a whole series of people having been in mishaps tell the camera that X is their role model. Next a man has 100 bowling balls fall on his in succession, and he then declares that X is his role model. Then a man furtively looks at the camera, says X is his role model, looks behind him and then runs. Into the camera appears an angry woman with a broom over her head. She screams with many expletives. “You *****ing piece of ******. I should ****** your ******!” Then two men with no shirts on in a gym dressing room say that X is their role model. The film ends with a group of boys showering together declaring X is their role model.
Jenny leaves again. She tells me it is okay to say no to wanting to go to Nanchang, but I won't take the chance and think she might mean it. I tell Tony to get up so we can get going to meet Mom.
I enter a thought in another blog.
Who is going to read this crap? Now, that would be a good way to end this blog entry, but seeing how this entry is blogging about blogging, I obviously can't and I have to record that I made the thought.
Am I going crazy like that singer in Nashville? That one who got shot in the end of the movie. What was the point of the assassination? A condemnation of America especially the South, I would suppose.
Just in time, I took a photo of two ladies with umbrellas walking below my bedroom window – I should mention that they carry the umbrellas because of the heat, not because of the rain.
Game of Thrones could never displace the Lord of Rings in the pantheon of literature and the fantasy genre. One can read Lord of the Rings over and over again. Game of Thrones is based too much on the capricious nature of the characters. The plotting of Game is great, but once you have seen the next episode, you never want to watch that episode again. Game of Thrones is a soap opera fill of sex and violence set in a mythical time in the past – it isn't an epic.
Tony still sleeps.
Tony still sleeps.
I haven't taken a shower yet. I should soon.
I was going to take a shower but I had to hang laundry. I may now.
Tony still sleeps.
Jenny phones me and says I can borrow a car and go downtown. I tell her I am not interested because I don't have a license. Thinking a little later, I also wouldn't know where to park the car. I would take the car to the countryside but not downtown!
Tony awakes and does his ablutions. He takes my Ipad and goes back to bed.
Now he tells me he doesn't want to go downtown.
Ten hours later, my stream-of-consciousness entry continues. I put Tony on the phone with Mom and so I was able to get him to go downtown with not so much fuss.
On the bus, Tony played on the Ipad while I recorded footage for Scenes from My Life in Wuxi, China #44.
We meet Jenny at a swanky Hot Pot restaurant near Wu Ai Road and a bridge. (So, we didn't go to Nanchang) As I like to say, I had a good fill, and I can add, to annoy some, that I drank two bottles of Budweiser 啤酒。Jenny, at the end of the meal, made Tony & I wait half an hour as she got her nails done for free at the Hot Pot restaurant. As I said, the restaurant was swanky for it also had a playground for Tony to play in and the servers entered our orders on Ipads.
We then caught a taxi to this children's mall near the train station. Jenny meet her friend Ling Ling and Ling Ling's son Jerry. I found the mall boring – it didn't have a good toy store – so I tried to watch A Man for All Seasons on my Ipad. However, screaming at the playground by children, including Tony and Jerry, caused me to put the Ipad away.
I saw these two kids guard a playhouse at the playground and push the other kids out. Little Jerry was pushed out and he landed on his back and hit his head against a plastic toy car. Tony screamed at the kids in defense of his little buddy – Jerry is three years old or thereabouts.
We then walked to Baoli for dinner. I wasn't really all that hungry after having eaten Hot Pot and so when it was decided to go to Pizza Hut, I agreed but told Jenny to not order much food.
Because Tony slept, his head on my lap, I was able to finish watching A Man for All Seasons on the bus. It was a great movie done in a conventional studio way with actors, competent in the classical way, and with great sets – no CGI graphics and special effects. If I matched A Man for All Seasons with Nashville in a movie showdown, the movie about Thomas More's refusal in cave in on a matter of conscience wins 35 to nil.