Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Weekly: August 19 to August 25, 2013

Gratitude:  Six years of Tony! What more could I ask for, given the life I had lead till I meet Jenny.

Acknowledgment: Life has forced me to shed many of the dreams I had for my life. I have nothing to look forward to but a series of bitter pills being swallowed.

Requests: Please visit Views of China from Casa Kaulins! Lots of interesting things to be seen if you spend a little time exploring it. Also be sure to visit the page dedicated to my father.

The AKIC Week in Brief: I worked. I signed my tenth one-year contract with the school. We celebrated Tony's sixth birthday in a modest way. I discovered the author WH Mallock.

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!  我的中文马马虎虎。我自学中文。我没有老师。我老婆觉得我的中文很差。他说我和我儿子不可以一起说中文。

I am Canadian! I think of the mountains of British Columbia that I have seen.

I am Latvian (sort of)! I wish Latvia all the best. It pains me that they can't be better at hockey.

Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary! I can think of any other philosophy that give me any succour.

I teach English! I am entering the tenth year of teaching English at my school.
I am not a freak! Then again maybe I am. Ten years of teaching English at the same school. What the hell am I thinking?
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 #167 this week and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of 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 the Apostle to the Thessalonians and am reading the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy.

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. [I found a black and white pdf scan of the book (never get a color scan because it takes your device too long to render the page images!) which contained all the pages, and finished the book lickety-split. I highly recommend it. It is a kind of fantasy for me to meet people, even for a short time, who love to argue and know that souls exist.]

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!

The New Republic by WH Mallock. I am reading it because mention of it was made in the comment sections of one of the recent entries in David Warren's blog. Half way through it, I wonder why it is that I hadn't heard of this book till last week. It is great and it is deals with all the issues I like to reflect on.

I like to take photos

I like to make videos

I like to cut and paste quotations:
There are only two from Don Colacho this week. Now that I have gotten through all 2988 of his aphorisms, I am reading the essays of his that I included with my compilation. Here are two quotes from that:

The spectacular, empty gesture earns public applause, but the disdain of those governed by reflection.

The reactionary is not a nostalgic dreamer of a canceled past, but rather a hunter of sacred shades upon the eternal hills.

Gregorio Carbone: go to heaven is to align oneself with life and to go to hell to align oneself with matter.

I fashion myself to be a 21st Century Pepys

Monday [August 18]

One Thumb Blogging done at a beach.   As Tony plays, I type.

Things I learned today:

  • Looking before turning right is taught in driving school but Chinese then don't do it once they get their license.
  • Community police have informants and party members to rely on.
  • They also have propaganda duties to do.
  • Disputes between residents and migrant workers caused by cultural differences.  Migrants not very civilized and don't know what to do with trash.  This keeps the community police busy.
  • The local Hui Shan government has sold land.  It was its major source of revenue.  I can't determine what it's major source of revenue is currently now that it had sold all the land that it can sell.
  • My apartment is classified as commercial, not residential because the land was taken from the original residents and given to commercial developers.
  • Businessmen think the Chinese economy is slowing down.  The one I know says he has to find more business in America.  India is not a good option he tells me because the workers there are lazy because the government has supplied their basic needs.
  • I am still uncomfortable with silence when others are in my midst.
Finished watching Johnny Guitar starring Joan Crawford who didn't play Johnny Guitar.  Acting slightly overwrought but it was an okay movie all the same.  It had great scenic vistas and a good story.

The sun sets and the bats come out.  I wonder where they sleep during the day.  I cannot count the bats now because there are so many flying about.  Size wise, the bats here are bigger than butterflies and smaller than common birds. They meander in a circular manner and so I would get a sore neck and would become dizzy if I tried to track their path for more than an instant.

I take Tony to the beach near Casa Kaulins so he can play with his toy dump truck and backhoe.  Four young men walk by.  They strip to their underwear and take a dip.  They have a great laugh as they splash each other.  To my temperament, it is a corny sort of fun, but how dare I judge others innocent enjoyments!

Tony wades in the water.  I wish he wouldn't.

Tony joins up with a family that has brought a plastic shovel and pail to the beach.
It rained this afternoon and so it feels relatively cooler.

It's spitting rain now even though the sky above is mostly blue.

Here at the beach, I see a man has dipped  his e-bike into the water so he can wash it.  Now I wonder if some guy with do the same thing with his car.  As the man rides his bike away, the riding through the beach's sand must defeat his purpose.

Dark clouds on the horizon.

Tony invited me into the water.  No doing.

The Moon is 90 percent.  I hope to see a bat fly in front of it, but they seem to have stopped flying above the nearby trees.  I should monitor the habits of bats more closely.

[Home Laptop]
Tony lost one of the two toys, he had brought with him, when we were at the beach. He was leaving his toys in the sand and then suddenly deciding to run far from them. I warned about this but he didn't listen. As it got dark and I was able to find one of the toys but not the other. Tony says it was stolen but I think he dropped it in the water.

I told Tony to not tell Jenny that he had lost the toy, but he told her first thing when we returned to the apartment. And so Jenny is not happy and so Tony & I are both the targets of her ire.

Tuesday [August 19]
[Home Laptop]
I phoned my cousin Idi last night to offer her condolences on the death of her mother Dzidra.

I also phoned my Mom. My brother and sister, I learned, are together in BC at the moment.

[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.

Things I just saw: 1)A man comes to my bus stop in the morning who is paralyzed on his right side. When he moves he use the paralyzed leg as a crutch and his paralyzed arm is flung in the air. 2)A family of three rides in the front of their tricycle wagon. From the angle I was initially watching them it seemed as if the little girl who was sitting next to her mother was dangling in mid-air. I didn't see the actual solidness of the girl's sitting position till the wagon rode past and I could see that the girl was sitting on her mother's lap, and her mother in turn had her feet planted firmly on an area below the tricycle's steering apparatus.

The 85 Bakery, near our school, has re-opened. The place is bigger but its pickup counter is absurdly narrow. The counter area which had a small glass display case has been replaced with a tall case that goes right to the ceiling and thus there is less room for pickups.

Wednesday [August 21]
[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00. I arrive at school at 10:45 because that's the kind of guy I am.

I should call the upcoming weekend, a celebration of Tony's six years weekend.

I had a leisurely morning at home before I went to work. I put a Guns 'N Roses song on my Ipod and the film The Man from Laramie on my Ipad.

Last night, Tony continually refused my entreaties to have him give me back my Ipad.

Listening to an Econtalk podcast this morning confirmed some things that a businessman I know had told me about India. The current government of India has been increasing their giving out of what Americans would call food stamps.

The Indian Economics professor also had this to say about China: China is seen as a place where wealth accumulation is the main concern of the population and there is a lack of empathy for others.

Thursday [August 22]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 21:00 today.

This morning, I looked out the window of the Casa K living room to see a white van parked on the road just below our apartment. The van's back door was open and around it stood six men. I, of course, took a photo for the Casa Kaulins Blog. Then glancing out the Casa K master bedroom window, I saw that there was also a crane about two stories high, and of course I took of a photo of that for the CK Blog.

I late phoned Jenny to ask her what was up with the workers and their crane. As I suspected, our apartment buildings are going to be shiny in the night as the workers are installing lights on the rooftops of the apartment buildings.

It is Tony's B-day minus one. That is, it is Tony's birthday tomorrow. I have four toys that I bought for him in the drawer of my desk. My plan is to bring two of the toys to Casa Kaulins tonight, and find a way to surprise Tony with them tomorrow – I am thinking to phone him and give him directions to the toys' hiding spot. I then envisage that I will bring the other toy or toys to Casa Kaulins tomorrow night and then give it or them to Tony when I arrive home.

Because I work tomorrow and then Saturday, there won't be a birthday party for Tony until Sunday.

I listened to a podcast about the Economic crisis, a podcast about politics, a podcast of a homily from EWTN, and then a podcast by Adam Carolla where he talks to some guy named Norton who likes to be pleasured when he gets massages. Quite a clash of views therein you could say. You could also say my tastes are quite electric, though I know when I first heard someone describe their musical tastes that way, I knew that there was no way I could describe my tastes that way except in a very ironic manner. I listen to what I listen to, and I like what I like. Some of what I listen to, I don't like. Some of what I listen to is interesting though I feel uncomfortable for finding it so, like the Adam Carolla podcast. The EWTN stuff never fails to raise my spirit, I can honestly say.

I am getting old. I have students who have never experienced a time where there weren't mobile phones or the internet. And I just had a student who didn't know what went on in post offices.

The gig is up? Wall Street English has been punished for hiring part-time workers. For three months, they will not be allowed to use foreigners, even their full-timers, in classes. Hmmm...... I have also been told that foreigners working part-time jobs could be deported. If that is the way it must be, then that is the way it must be.
Friday [August 23: Tony's Birthday]
[School Laptop]
I work today, 11:00 to 21:00, so I won't be spending much time with Tony on his birthday. I have given him a birthday kiss and sung Happy Birthday to him, but he was asleep. I plan to phone him to tell him to look in the bottom drawer of the dresser on my side of the bed to find a couple birthday presents.

On the bus, I chanced to see an old woman, slim and agile, walking on the sidewalk. It really wasn't a special sight, all in all, but it struck me that she must have been a pretty girl when she was younger for youthful prettiness seemed to radiate from her being.

I could see road maintenance workers, during morning rush hour, taking advantage of a red light to conduct measurements among the stopped cars. It seemed insane and dangerous to be doing such work among all those cars but I suppose they weren't allowed to block off a lane in the interests of traffic efficiency.

I was just listening to a podcast of the reading of the book Heretics by GK Chesterton. Chesterton in his chapter on Rudyard Kipling said that the peasant inhabits a bigger world that the globe-trotter. I think GKC means that the globe-trotter has only a superficial and narrow view of things while the peasant thinks deeply of the things he knows intimately. There is something to be said for that. Places in China that cater to the globe-trotter are all the same and lacking something necessary to get them depth.

Though the 85 Bakery has opened, its renovation is not completely finished. The sound of power tools coming from the bakery, which is next door to our school, is forcing some classes normally held downstairs to be moved to an area far from the tools. How is it that a bakery can be opened before its renovation seems screwball to me , but that is how they often do such things in China.

An old woman walks along the side of the road, seemingly to me, in defiance of modern civilization and its traffic rules. The bus I was in skirted by her.

At lunchtime, I phoned Tony and gave him instructions to find his birthday presents. It took about two minutes but he figured it out, and he was very happy with his two new Tomica firetrucks which he found in the drawer beside my bed.

Two boys tell me that their school makes them attend meetings of the Young Pioneers, a Communist youth organization. The students tell me that they use the meetings to do their homework. Asked what the meetings were about, the boys told me they weren't paying attention.

Saturday [August 24]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 18:00 today.

Last night, I sat with my sometimes 635 bus companion. I had questions to ask her about her school with regards to what I had heard had happened to Wall Street English which had received a three month suspension for hiring foreigners part-time to teach English. She told me her school had hired foreigners as part-timers over the summer. Some of the full-time trainers even brought in some of their friends to teach part-time. These friends were not from other schools but people passing through Wuxi. One such part-timer worked three weekends while staying three weeks in Wuxi. Leads to me wonder what it was that Wall Street had done wrong, or the school where my bus companion works hasn't been discovered yet by the authorities.

I then asked my bus companion to help me read a passage from a Chinese textbook I have been studying. She wanted me to pronounce the words which only confirmed to me that it is hopeless for me to try to speak the language, and I should have been learning to read on day one.

When I arrived home, Tony was eagerly waiting for me because he knew I had a second present for him, which was a fancy SIKU firetruck with ladder.

Now, let me blog about the now. Here I am, doing the stuff I should be doing before I do the stuff I want to be doing like reading The New Republic and watching Broken Arrow 1950 with James Stewart, one of my favorite movie actors.

[School Laptop]
Taking the 25 bus home after work today, I typed the following into my Ipod:
power failure! Second of week!
Shengyang student
Shirt draped on shoulder on 25 bus cloth shoes
Deep puddles!
Student going to Xishan school because it has a good environment
Man beside me sees I can type some Chinese.
Box of live chickens on bus.
What does this stuff mean? Well let me tell you:
  • Rainpower failure! Second of week! I was all excited because with my last class finishing at 17:00, I was going to go home early, but about 16:45, I saw a thunderstorm was rolling in. It then started to rain buckets and I was stuck at school till the rain stopped. During the heavy rain, the power at the school went out. It came back after twenty minutes but it was the second power failure to take place at the school this week. The rain did stop at about 17:20 and I went outside to catch the 25 bus home. To pass the time, I made the blog notes on my Ipad.
  • Shengyang student My last class of the day was with one student, a male from Shenyang in Northern China. He was in Wuxi to study design at Jiangnan University. I asked him what he thought of Wuxi and he told me that he found it boring. Being from Northern China, he liked to go to a pub and have a drink after classes, but around the university, the pubs all closed at ten PM. I mentioned to him about how Northern Chinese were renown for being able to drink, and he told me that everyone in his family, even his mother, liked to drink. I asked him what he thought of the Nanchang Bar Street and he told me that he didn't like it because.... Searching for a word, he agreed with my suggestion of “it not being real.
  • Shirt draped on shoulder on 25 bus, cloth shoes I saw a man, almost shirtless, board the bus and come towards the back where I was sitting. I say he was almost shirtless because he had his shirt, which was long-sleeved and heavy, draped over his shoulder. He had taken it off because of the humid Wuxi weather. I looked at his feet, and saw he was wearing cotton shoes worn by poorer Chinese.
  • Deep puddles! The storm dumped more water on Wuxi that its drainage system could handle so I could see huge and deep puddles on the road.
  • Student going to Xishan school because it has a good environment On the bus, I recalled a student, who during a conversation class I did about the environment, told me that she was going to the Xishan High School near Casa Kaulins because the environment, her father told here, was good there. I told her about the factory that was about one kilometer near her school and near a freeway in a setting that I told her was modern industrial hell.
  • 兰州捞面。兰州捞面. I thought I saw these characters on a Lanzhou Noodles restaurant sign. Three of the four characters I recognized quite easily. It was the third of the four characters that I wasn't sure about, so on my Ipod, I changed the keyboard to pinyin enter mode to see if I figure out what the third character was. The only problem was that the bus pulled away and I couldn't remember what the third character looked like and so when I typed the four characters above, I thought I had it figured out; but just checking on Google Translate, I see that the characters, I did see were as follows: 兰州拉面. I had the third character wrong. It was la not lao. Anyway, I do this all the time with my Ipod because I find it is a great way to test my knowledge of Chinese characters. Now, I wouldn't have made mention of my doing this, this afternoon, but this fellow sitting beside me was watching me type in my Ipod and seeing that I could type Chinese characters, decided to talk to me in Chinese. It was torturous for me because I understood only about twenty percent of what he said. He asked me the usual questions of where I was from, where I lived, and where I worked. I also think he asked me about whether I was going to University to study Chinese and how tall I was. I think he told he was a worker in Yanqiao. My typing being scrutinized by a stranger was unnerving for me as well.
  • Box of live chickens on bus. I wonder what the man made of my taking a photo of a box, filled with three live chickens, that had been placed on the exit stairwell of the bus.

After all this, I arrived home and I finished watching the film Broken Arrow starring James Stewart. A great Western I thought. The Wikipedia entry about the film said it was the first Western made after WWII to portray the Natives in a sympathetic manner. The major Indian character in the movie was called Cocheese a name which I love and which I may not be spelling right. The movie has you rooting for Native Apaches against the Americans who are, with the exception of the James Stewart character, a Christian General and a few other whites, very hostile and prejudiced against the Apaches. Spoiler Alert: the ending brought tears to my eyes.

Sunday [August 25]
[School Laptop]
No work today.

I was up too late last night playing on the Ipad. At 3:30 AM, I was preparing files of Elmore Leonard novels to put on my Ipad.

Grinding noises come from a nearby apartment. Tony plugs his ears.

I just wanted to watch my movie. 

We went to the Tesco and Wanda Plazas in the afternoon.  Things were going as well as could be expected.  Jenny bought Tony a pair of shorts and a cake.  We were then having dessert at a place called Honeymoon Dessert when just as we finished there, Jenny realized she had forgotten the shorts she had purchased at the cake shop.  She ran over to the shop immediately only to find that the bag with Tony's shorts was not there.  Someone had taken them and Jenny was pissed.  Jenny getting angry is like a storm coming in, you have batten down and wait for it to come to an end.  I never feel so helpless as during a storm...  Anyway, it was somehow my fault that the shorts were lost.  I should have been more vigilant and done more to help her when she was buying the cake. 

Tony wanted to go to the square so I took him to get away from Jenny.

[Home Laptop]
Tony & I spend a short time at the square. After about thirty minutes, we returned to Casa Kaulins where we ate the cake that had been purchased, but we had no supper, and I dared not ask Jenny to make any. Not standing the tension, I started up the Ipad and watch the remainder of the Western film The Man from Laramie – what can I say? I love Westerns.

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