Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Weekly for September 23 to September 29, 2013

Gratitude:  I am thankful for silence whenever I can find it.

Acknowledgement: I am a sinner.

Requests: I would like everyone to talk less and think more.

The AKIC Week in Brief: The week of September 23rd to 29th was spent anticipating my stretch of five days off from the 29th to the 3rd which I have because of the Chinese National Day holiday. The week as well saw the weather get cooler and Tony have to go to school everyday including Saturday and Sunday.

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

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

AKIC Weekly Features:

I in in China!  十月一号 是 中华人民共和国的天。我觉得十一月不是中国的生日。我喜欢中国。 我不喜欢中华人民共和国。

I am Canadian! July 1st is Canada's National Day. On that day, John A. McDonald stood in front of the parliament in Ottawa and declared the establishment of the Dominion of Canada. Well.... Not exactly.

I am Latvian (sort of)! My full name is Andis Edmunds Kaulins. Notice how all the words in my full name end with “s.” That's the way it is with many Latvian male names. My father's name is Arnis. My brother's name is Ronalds. Female names end with “a.” My mother's name is Aina. My sister's name is Benita. I have a male cousin named Gunars. Some of my female relative names include Lolita, Gundega, Zinta, and Dzridra.

Wuxi Peach Maoists Update: Visit here to find out how Your Peach Maoists did in week three.

Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary! I wish there were more Republicans like Ted Cruz and less like John McCain. It is nice to see some Republicans take a stand instead of bend over to the Lib-Dems for a change

I teach English! I wish the students would more more imagination. I have so many conversations with them where I have to provide all the ideas for discussion. I sometimes feel the best way to talk to them is by offering them multiple choice questions and asking what thought they agree with.
I am not a freak! I am just stuck with a bunch of them.
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 #172 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.   This past week, I have finished reading the Second General Epistle of Peter and was working my way through the First Epistle General of John.

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 its contents on the Dotdotdot app.

The Limits of Pure Democracy by WH Mallock. Finished on the 23rd. Oligarchy is man's natural state. Attempts to have it otherwise are illogical. I recall people saying that Socialism and Communism were great ideas that didn't work in practice. After reading Mallock, I see that that was a lot of hokum. Mallock writing in 1916 was already pointing the illogic of Socialist and Communists.

The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence. A good book, but certainly not an authoritative book about China. One gets the impression that China is so big that it is hard for an historian to write a clearly focused book about it. And it is also hard to write about Modern China accurately with the Communists in power. People who can come to China are sacrificing some integrity in order to keep their visas.

Mao Zedong: Man, Not God by Quan Yanchi. A Hagiography given to me by a local.

I like to take photos

I like to make videos

I like to cut and paste quotations:
From Don Colacho:
249 Not reject, but prefer. [I prefer not to be in the company of those I reject and of those who reject me. (This makes Andis a lonely boy) I don't think that is what Colacho means in 249. I think he really means that we should take a positive approach to life.]
253 Two hundred years ago it was permissible to trust in the future without being totally stupid.
But today, who can believe in the current prophecies, since we are yesterday’s splendid future?
257 Industrial society is condemned to forced perpetual progress.
258 When they define property as a social function, confiscation is near; when they define work a social function, slavery is on the way. [The word “social” negates any word its modifies. Thus social work is non-work and social justice is really non-justice. So if property and work become thought of as non-functions, there will be moves afoot to get rid of them and replace them with slavery.]
259 True glory is the resonance of a name in the memory of imbeciles. [Most of the people who have heard of Shakespeare and Beethoven don't know what it is that they actually did.]
262 Those who proclaim themselves avant-garde artists usually belong to yesterday’s vanguard.
263 When only boorish solutions confront each other, it is difficult to express an opinion with subtlety. Rudeness is this century’s passport. [Victim-hood in many western societies can be coin because it enables you to have a passport, or license, to be rude.]
264 The arts flourish in societies that view them with indifference, and perish when the devout reverence of fools encourage them.
265 There are two kinds of men: those who believe in original sin and idiots. [On one score, I am not an idiot.]
268 Sociological categories authorize us to move about in society without paying attention to each man’s irreplaceable individuality. Sociology is the ideology of our indifference toward our neighbor. [I have to battle the temptation to talk about the Chinese like I am a sociologist. I hear and overhear many foreigners who have completely given into the urge. It seems they all want to be like journalists who are most superficial and navel-gazing people you are ever likely to meet.]
270 What still protects man in our time is his natural incoherence. That is to say: his spontaneous horror before consequences implicit in principles he admires. [This quotation could be used against both advocates of abortion and advocates of gun rights. But more people are killed by abortion than by guns....]

From the First Epistle General of John:
2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness until even now.
3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. [And don't believe it when it says its like you.]

From David Warren:
Not statistics, but proportions, have long intrigued me. The proportion one-in-seven corresponds, I would guess from the extent of my inquiries, to the number of Christians who opted for some version of the monastic life in the High Middle Ages, when it was generally available & a visible alternative to the more worldly familial calling. Then, too, there may have been a disproportion of geriatrics, & the dirt poor in need of some wardship, but the monasteries also attracted many of the young & hip. It is a little-known fact, at least to our contemporary world — one might almost call it a scandal to the worldly — that many actually prefer the celibate, eremitical life, & would choose it if they could. [If only the monastic call had been available to me when I was younger...]

I fashion myself to be a 21st Century Pepys

A Week in the Life, of Sorts of a Wuxi Expat: September 23 to September 29, 2013

Monday [September 23]
[Home Laptop]
I didn't work today. In fact, I didn't do much of anything so there isn't much of an entry for today.

Here is what I did do:

  1. I finished reading my WH Mallock book.
  2. I went with Jenny downtown and got my hair cut really short.
  3. I took a lot of photos for my Casa Kaulins blog.

Tuesday [September 24]
[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00.

Jenny says I snore. She said that she couldn't sleep Sunday night because of my doing so. She asked if I remembered being shoved by her (I didn't) during the night. She shoved me, she said, in hopes of getting me to be quiet, but instead I snored all the louder.

The idea of someone being awake when I am sleeping is strange to me because it seems to me that I am always the last to fall asleep, and I can remember many a night where others were fast asleep while I was staring at the ceiling. I even used to always say that I wasn't the sort of person who could put their head on a pillow and fall asleep right away.

I told Jenny to make a recording of my snoring.

I took the 602bus and then the 312 bus to get to work. While doing so, I listened to the latest Econtalk podcast. The topic was the Sports Gene. From what I could gather from listening to the podcast, I think that author of a book about the Sports Gene said genetics helps give athletes an advantage in sports, and that if you don't have these advantages, whether they be the right body shape or a gene, you have no hope, no matter how much you work at succeeding. The idea of genetics playing such a role in who we were and what we can become is one that I have always found depressing. I will never forget becoming so depressed from reading a New Yorker article which discussed how even personality was determined so much by evolution and where our ancestors came from. I was approaching my mid-twenties when reading the article and I was thoroughly miserable at my situation and my prospects in life. It seemed I was doomed to be lonely and poor, and the article seemed to indicate that I was genetically fated to be so doomed.

Wednesday [September 25]
[Home Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.

I was up at 6:00 because Tony has to off to school by 7:00.

For the first time in months, I wore long pants in my civilian-non-English-teacher mode. It is getting cool. I may wear long sleeves during my English-teacher mode today.

Obama wanted to bomb Syria because the U.S. Armed Forces needed some combat practice, not having had any in a couple years. That is what one student told me was his theory about what he was trying to do in Syria. That combined with another student's assertion, made last week, that Obama was a puppet of the arms industry shows to me that the world's perception of America hasn't changed even with supposedly world-friendly Obama in the White House.

I am back to studying Python on my free time. I downloaded some PPT slides for a Cal Tech lecture on Python which I have found to be very informative. I don't really have a project in mind right now however. Having written my forty team tournament program, I am not sure how to proceed. I may try to make the program more detailed and increase its options for the user. I may allow the user an option of following one team through the entire tournament process. I would also like more statistical reports to be made of the results like single game records and multiple tournament records as well.

Last night, I did a class about superstitions. All the students told me that they were not superstitious. One of the students said he didn't believe in God because God didn't exist. None of the students could supply any examples of superstitions – I had to do so myself, and even then the students could not provide any other examples of superstitions. It seems the students have not had to actually think about superstitions and religions beyond being told that science is superior to both.

Tony has a dark bruise on his arm yesterday night. He told Jenny that the teacher had hit him. Jenny phoned the teacher who said she hadn't. This lead to an argument between Jenny and the teacher. I don't think Tony was hit by the teacher, though he does drive Jenny to such frustrations that she will hit him. Tony, as I have observed before, will be quiet or say I don't know! when he has been caught red-handed. He does lie on occasion. So it is hard to say how Tony got the bruise. Are the other kids picking on him because he is different? Is there resentment of the fact that he is a foreign kid maybe getting special treatment? Jenny told me that some other parents in Tony's class have alleged this. Did in fact the teacher get so frustrated with Tony? So whatever the cause of Tony's bruise, it sounds ugly and my stomach has a nauseous churning feeling when I contemplate the incident and the future of Tony at that school. I can't foresee things getting better. It seems a degree of animosity has built between Jenny, the other parents, and the teacher.

[School Laptop]
I take the 610 and then the 81 bus to get to school.

A student was in Beijing recently and he told me that compared to Beijing, Wuxi's air was fresh. The air was so bad in Beijing that the student said he got a sore throat very quickly.

Thursday [September 26]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 21:00. Because I have to get Tony out of the house at 7:00 AM, I got up at 5:45 to take a shower and shave. As soon as Tony was on the way to school, I caught a bus and got downtown about 8:00. I spent about 45 minutes at McDonald's where I had breakfast and read religious things on the Ipad.

I saw a tall foreigner having breakfast at the McDonald's. I ordered my food and stayed clear of him.

I blog about when I go to work but rarely, if ever, do I mention when I arrive home. Last night, I arrived home at 10:15 PM. Tony was fast asleep. I showered and then read on my Ipad.

Three files I work with through the day: My diary file, my AKIC Weekly file, and my thoughts file.

I walk around the school at ten and I don't see any students. I will see about six today in total if they all show up.

I caught one student gaming our school's system. What he had done was book a salon class but then not show up for it but then show up for his private class. The way it works at our school is that students have to attend private classes if they are to advance, or in the case of many company students: get out. They should attend salon classes but they aren't compulsory. So I noticed that this student didn't attend my 19:00 salon class, but showed up at my 20:00 private class. I pointed this out to him and he laughed in the weaselly way that Chinese people do when they have been caught out.

Friday [September 27]
[School Laptop]
I work 11:00 to 21:00 today.

It turns out that Tony is going to school tomorrow. I had believed that he would have tomorrow off and then would go back to school on Sunday and Monday. Instead, I believe now that he will go to school on Saturday, Sunday and on Monday. Jenny, however, tells me that he gets eight days off in a row instead of seven because of this schedule change so maybe he will get Monday off. Either way, the Chinese way of dealing with holidays is insane.

I have more thoughts to put into my other files instead of in this diary.

Sometimes, traffic puts me in a rage as some Chinese person in a car or e-bike cuts you off.

There is something to be said for monastic life. I believe that most English teachers in China should be in monasteries instead of classrooms teaching.

There was another thing Jenny told me about Tony. She thinks Tony is not happy these days. When she came to pick him up yesterday, Tony was not running excitedly to the exit like the other children in his class, but was walking behind them.

I am having great fun with Python. I have figured out how to scan my tourney result files and pull out results for a team of my choice. Tomorrow, if I have time, I will write a function that will pull out the complete line score of a team's playoff result. Right now, I can just pull out the team's line score for a playoff game but not the line score of the team's playoff game opponent.

Saturday [September 28]
[School Laptop]
Last night at the bus stop, where I wait for the 635 bus to take me home, my 635 bus companion asked me how my day was. I sighed; and a pang of boredom and uselessness came over me. I replied simply. “Just another day!” “You always say that when I ask you!” she replied.

The bus came, I got on, got a seat, and eventually I got to my stop. I walked home and was surprised to see a crowd of people and police standing in front of the #53 apartment building. (I live at the #52). The one lane that runs in front of the buildings was blocked by three cars which were parked so close together that I assumed that there had been an accident which would have explained the crowds and police. But walking pass the car expecting to see damage, I saw instead that the cars were parked within inches of each other and I could see no damage.

Arriving at the apartment, I asked Jenny what was going on. She told me that a woman had stopped her car in front of the apartment building and was waiting for her son to come down. The problem was that her son didn't come down right away and the drivers who were waiting in the lane because of her became piqued. So piqued that they become that they decided to not move their cars. A three car standoff ensued. Jenny told me that they almost came to blows.

The standoff started about 8:00. I arrived home about 10:15. I had a vantage point on the standoff from my third floor apartment window and I was continually checking in on it as I got ready to go to bed. The standoff was marked by people standing around with brief bursts of loud and seemingly animated conversation. There were policemen and security guards milling about with civilians.

The standoff ended at about 11:30 pm. It seems that everyone got in their cars and drove away.

I work today 10:00 to 18:00. I woke to see rain. It would have annoyed me so much but Tony had to go to school on this Saturday. I really felt sorry for him. Poor little fellow. He has to have me as his father.

[Home Laptop]
Tony is happy to see me because he wants to play with my Ipad.

A woman sat beside and asked if I was the person on the bus TV. I said I was, sheepishly. I just wanted to be left alone.

Sunday [September 29]
I don't work today. My five day holiday begins! What am I going to do? Not much. I'll stick around the house for the most part, and play it by ear. None of the students, I talked to yesterday, told me that they had big plans either.

Tony goes to school today because of a shuffling around of days off so the holiday can be seven days long.

I wear pants and my sweat jacket. The weather is cooling down.

An old friend of mine in Canada just recently had a birthday. Thanks to a reminder email I was able to send him a greeting. Hopefully, we will be to get together and talk on the phone. Happy Birthday Eric Van Munster!

Jenny went to the dentist in the morning. She didn't enjoy the experience. They were using drills and whatnot; and it was painful.

I meet her at the Tesco where we ate lunch at KFC and then did a bit of shopping.

Back home, we waited for Tony to finish school. I passed the time by reading The Search for Modern China and then watching this 1965 film, that I was finally able to get downloaded, called Simon of the Desert.

I downloaded the film because it was listed on a top 100 Catholic films article that I had found on the Internet. I had a notion that Simon of the Desert was this religious ascetic who spent a long time living on a column. People doing very ascetic things is very appealing me. Having the mental resources to survive in solitary confinement is something that I have grown to desire to be able to do.

I watched the move, found it quite affecting and startling, and was surprised to learn that it had been made by a Surreal and Atheist film director.

The movie started out, as one would expect, with a crowd of Christians honoring Simon. It was all quite solemn. However, I should have realized that something was up with this movie when Simon was being honored for having been on the column for six years, six months, and six days.

The film then startled me because it had nudity in it. It was not something that you would have expected from a black and white movie made in the mid-1960s, as well as from a movie that had made a list of top 100 Catholic films. But the nudity was used to show the ascetic being tempted by the devil so it wasn't gratuitous and not blasphemous I thought.

As the movie proceeded, Simon, on his column, was being questioned and tested by monks and other characters, some very modern, who were very cynical about what he was doing. This was something I would have expected from a truly Catholic film because Jesus himself had to deal with this from his followers and the society in which he lived.

But it was the film's ending that truly surprised and unsettled me so that I was a little confused as to what its message was. The Devil was played by a woman, a very fetching girl, in the film. Early in the film, she had tempted Simon without success. But at the end of the film, she returned and took Simon off his column. They got on a jet plane, headed to a big city and a 1960s nightclub where the young people are dancing furiously to some very rocking music. The Devil gets up to dance and Simon, who looks like an old professorial type completely out of place in the nightclub, tells her that he wants to go home. From the dance floor, the Devil tells Simon that he can't because another person has moved into it. The music keeps playing and the kids keep dancing as the movie ends.

The film's concluding scene, besides being very startling – one of the most startling ends to a movie I have ever seen, depicted a choice that I personally have dealt with my life. Taking to the bus to work, I have flipped between listening to religious podcasts and the rock music I have on my Ipod. But more than just podcasts the ending depicted the many choices and temptations I have in life. In fact, the whole tenor of my life was depicted in the two final scenes. The film showed the allure of decadence. But was the movie trying to tell us to choose the night clubs of life and eschew the religious life?

As soon as the film ended, I had to Google for reactions to the film. I was disappointed to see that the film was loved by some atheists who said it showed how religion was all wrong, but as I thought more about the film and considered what I had read on the Internet about it, I now think the film was something a Catholic could watch and say they liked. I say the film was in fact more realistic than surrealistic. Its seeming incongruities depicted the actual temptations that life presents to the spirit in an artistic way. And what do atheists know about religion anyway? If they depict life realistically, atheists can make spiritual films.

I further read that the film's startling ending was the result of the film makers running out of money and so was it hastily made. This only goes to show that giving an artist all he wants may not be the best way to make a masterpiece. Sometimes, you can make an impact on the cheap.

The film was just 45 minutes long, as well because of its small budget, and so I was able to finish it before I had to pick up Tony.

It was my second time to pick up Tony at his primary school. The picking up of children at school is a ritual that I have seen done thousands of times by Chinese parents. My going to pick up Tony, however, was quite the sight for the Chinese parents and and the students at Tony's primary school. I heard a child exclaim 老外(laowai or foreigner) seven times in quick succession. I pretended not to hear that as I did a mental rolling of the eyes.

I picked up Tony and we went for a sight-see on the family E-bike. I first took Tony along the canal so we could look at boat traffic. Standing on a six foot high canal wall, we saw what looked like a hand floating in the water. The “hand” was green and black. It looked to have four fingers and nails with thumb under the surface of the water. I imagined that the hand was attached to an arm that was reaching up from a body floating or resting an arm's length below the surface. I threw some rocks at the “hand” to see what happened. One rock hit the “hand” directly so that the “hand” disappeared from view for five or six seconds before again returning to the surface. This freaked Tony out and we left. We went to a nearby park which the canal ran by and I observed pieces of wood and plants floating in the water that had the same dark and green hue of the “hand.”

We then rode through a transportation commercial park where we were able to see all manner of things having to do with vehicles and transportation. At one spot in the park, Tony wanted to go watch a digger in operation. Something about the digger was drawing a crowd. We wanted to see what was happening but the crowd started staring at us. We were the show now, and the show was watching us. I had to leave.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The AKIC Bloggings for September 16 to September 22, 2013

I have divided them into two parts:

Part 1: My thoughts about things.

Part 2: My diary for the past week.

The Andis Kaulins in China Weekly: September 16, to September 22, 2013

Gratitude:  Thank God for holidays!

Acknowledgement: I don't think I am good for much of anything.

Requests: Email me at

The AKIC Week in Brief: It was a week of incidents such as running into people. Some people just happened know me from before. Some knew me from my blog or from bus television. It was also a week of being in holiday mood as I took Thursday off for the Mid-Autumn Festival and began to look forward to a five day stretch of days off for the Chinese National Day holiday. There was a change in my routine, as I took a different bus route to work.

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

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

AKIC Weekly Features:

I in in China!  我祝你们中秋节!

I am Canadian! 我是加拿大人!I hear it was cold in Brandon, Manitoba; and the water in Winnipeg was brown. From the Wuxi Water Crisis to the Winnipeg Water Crisis! Ha!

I am Latvian (sort of)! I can barely speak ten words of Latvian.

Wuxi Peach Maoists Update: Visit here to find out how Your Peach Maoists did in week two.

Politically I am Conservative/Reactionary! In certain contexts, I wouldn't want to be a conservative. For example, being conservative now in China means wanting to keep the Chicoms in power. I am not for that. I would love to see China become a constitutional monarchy. I prefer calling myself a reactionary because I believe human nature never changes and humans never progress toward anything in their earthly existence. I believe in the Nicene Creed and that the only poverty that can be fought in our live is a spiritual poverty.

I teach English! If only the students would prepare before they came to class, I could actually teach them something.
I am not a freak! I just like to act like I am one! Mind you, it isn't easy to be a freak in this day and age. Non-conformity is really conformity these days and true eccentricity is not tolerated.
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 #171 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, or more, a day of the greatest book of all-time. I have finished the the General Epistle of James and the First Epistle General of Peter, 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 its contents on the Dotdotdot app.

The Limits of Pure Democracy by WH Mallock. Oligarchy is man's natural state. Attempts to have it otherwise are illogical.

The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence. A good book, but certainly not an authoritative book about China. One gets the impression that China is so big that it is hard for an historian to write a clearly focused book about it.

Mao Zedong: Man, Not God by Quan Yanchi. A Hagiography given to me by a local.

I like to take photos

I like to make videos

I like to cut and paste quotations:
200 We should not conclude that everything is permitted, if God does not exist, but that nothing matters.
202 Do they preach the truths in which they believe, or the truths in which they believe they ought to believe? [Good Question!]
210 The individual today rebels against immutable human nature so that he might refrain from amending his own correctable nature.
217 Societal salvation is near when each person admits that he can save only himself. Society is saved when its supposed saviors despair. [A despairing Obama is a good thing indeed.]
218 When today they tell us that someone lacks personality, we know they are speaking of a simple, trustworthy, upright being. [I have taken the expression to mean they find the person boring. But then boring, trustworthy and upright beings don't stand a chance in this day and age.]
228 The intelligent man's unjust judgements tend to be truths wrapped up in a bad mood.
229 The people have never been feted except at the expense of another social class.
230 Modern man already knows that political solutions are ludicrous and suspects that economic solutions are too. [It is certainly true to say that politics and economics don't mix like oil and water. Oil and water are useful things however. Is it better to say the politics and economics are like jealousy and materialism because both don't solve man's real problems?]
240 I envy those who do not feel that they own only their stupidities. [These people are saintly.]

WH Mallock:
It is, however, one thing for a man to accept a principle as such, and quite another to be satisfied with its particular application to himself. [That is the test of anyone who is conservative or reactionary. They would have to accept a lower position in life if that is what their talents consign themselves to. However, I suspect many are conservative because of a need to feel superior to socialists.]

David Warren:
The apes are specialized, each species for its niche; men, to the contrary, were generalists from our beginning. It is to be regretted that the modern university is, for the most part, graduating apes, not men.

A hideous, ape-like, destructive force has been at large in our world for generations, & through the hierarchy of our Church for at least the last two.

Literalism, reductionism, point-scoring, prioritizing, are marks of the poorly educated mind. [Thinking of point-scoring. I think how lefties always like to bring up the unfortunate hunting accident of U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney. Contrariwise, I think of how those on the right like to bring up the many verbal gaffes of President Obama and Vice-President Biden – this is done in response to the lefties trying to score points of George W. Bush's gaffes. Thinking of Literalism, I have run into a few ignorant Ape-like Wuxi Expats (most Wuxi Expats are Apes to be honest) who love to engage in this activity of taking something someone said too literally. I remember a few times having something I said, just for the sake of making conversation, taken literally and used to mock me for being trite. Thank God, I don't associate with these people. When I think of prioritizing, I think of the idea of being cool (Cool people are too cool to do common things); I think of the man who is all business all the time; I think of the man who even makes his leisure time a serious business; and I think of the people who compartmentalize. The latter remind me of SS concentration camp commanders who would go home to their wife and children after a hard day of work.]

Theodore Dalrymple:
My philosopher companion said that I should take pleasure in the good buildings of the square and disregard the bad for, after all, the good buildings were as good as they ever had been.

But, I said, the square was not just a lot of individual buildings, it was a Gestalt, more than the sum of its parts. The one atrocity destroyed it all.

The philosopher at first denied this, so I thought of an analogy. Suppose you are in a restaurant and your meal is delicious. Suddenly the diner at the next table vomits copiously. Do you continue to eat with the same delectation as before, just because the food on your plate remains unchanged?
[It is so hard to find a Gestalt in Wuxi that is beautiful. At best, Wuxi is a diner where the food at one table is delicious, and there is copious vomiting at every other table. For example, I have seen five star hotels located next to lots of rubble in China.]

A Week in the Life of a Wuxi, China English Teacher: September 16 to September 22, 2013

Monday [September 16]
[Home Laptop]
I didn't work today.

In the morning, Jenny & I went to Tesco. We had breakfast at KFC. Feeling mean, I recommend all my AKIC readers do the same.

We then did a little bit of shopping. While we were doing so, Jenny told me that the parents of the other children in Tony's class were complaining that Tony was getting special treatment, and so she was engaging in some frantic texting on her mobile phone with the teacher of Tony's class.

In the afternoon, I finished watching The Westerner starring Gary Cooper. A strange movie in that it was both tongue-in-cheek and tragic. I couldn't figure out the relationship between the character played by Cooper and Judge Roy Bean. Bean didn't deserve the sentimental treatment that Cooper's character had given him in the end of the movie. Bean had just admitted that he was responsible for burning down homesteader's fields and crops.

I then watched the first twenty minutes of The Mill & the Cross. The film had little dialogue and was using a famous painting for a backdrop It was an art film and the characters were going about their lives solemnly. So, I was feeling of solemnity as I went to pick up Tony.

So solemn was I that I forgot to take the tire lock off the e-bike. I applied the accelerator but was quickly stopped by the lock which had gotten jammed into the top of the wheel well. I couldn't get the lock out for two minutes and I was faced with the prospect of not being able to get to the primary school to pick up Tony. After having placed the bike on its sides, I was finally able to get the lock off the bike by just backing it up.

It turned out that I wasn't late for picking up Tony. I waited about five minutes and Tony emerged from a crowd of kids. I took him on a ride of the countryside and to the playground before taking him home.

When I was in grade one, I walked to school by myself. [I just told this to Jenny and she told me that she did the same, however she didn't have a mother and father to come home to. She went home to an uncle who made she sure she didn't starve but didn't provide much else for her. In the winter of her first year of primary school, she had only one pair of shoes, made of cotton, to wear. And of course she was mocked by all the other girls in her village for being the girl that her mother didn't want.]

Tuesday [September 17]
[School Laptop]
I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.

Three interesting things to report today:
  1. There was an incident in front of the government building that is across the street from Casa Kaulins. I was hanging clothes in the verandah when I saw a car stop near the entrance gate to the government compound. Out of the car came an old man and a younger man. The younger man opened the trunk and pulled out a wheelchair on which then he sat. The old man pulled out another thing, from the trunk, which turned out to be a sign and then pushed the man in the wheelchair to a spot on the road side that was in the lane leading the entrance gate. The man in the wheelchair then unfolded the sign and displayed it. I told Jenny then to take a look and she told me that the pair of men were demanding some compensation from a government official working in the building – there had been an accident or something. The pair were first confronted by the compound's security guards. People came out of the building and talked to the pair. Then a police car showed up. The pair talked to the policemen for about twenty minutes or so. The police car then left, and I then saw the car that brought the pair to the spot come to pick them up. So, there were no beatings.
  2. I took a completely new way to school. Last week, I told you that I had taken the 617 bus downtown and I was quite taken with the area it rode through. The wife mentioned that I could transfer to the 3 bus to get downtown. Well, I did that this morning. I arrived at a stop that was across the street from the school – it having taken me about 70 minutes to get there from home. This was not quicker than any of the ways I get downtown but it wasn't so awful; so I will take it again.
  3. I ran into a teacher working at a school that competes with ours. He hadn't heard of the suspensions and deportations at Wuxi Wall Street that resulted from their being found to have employed illegal part-timers. This surprised me. His school had been engaging in the sort of hiring that had gotten Wall Street suspended.
  4. Did I say three things? I knew there was a fourth thing of interest to type into this blog. I am appearing in a commercial that is playing on all the bus televisions in Wuxi. My 635 bus companion sent me a message saying she saw me when she was riding to work.
  5. Now there is fifth thing I should mention. I phoned my Mother last night. I told her our good news about the apartment mortgage but she depressed with news of the employment situation in Manitoba, and her weather report. Two degrees in Brandon! It is still in the high twenties here in Wuxi.
  6. My cousin who had her ninth child last week was on a plane three days after giving birth so she could attend a wedding in Winnipeg! Amazing!

Wednesday [September 18]
In other languages, today is Mercredi or 星期三.

I work 13:00 to 21:00 today. Tomorrow is a holiday: The Mid-Autumn Festival. So I come to school with jeu d'esprit.

The commercial I did for the school, which is now appearing on buses all over the Wuxi area, has incorrect subtitles. They never replaced the original script with my edits! Zut alors! Be that as it may, the video shows give me a performance that is a real tour de force. 

I get an enquiry about teaching English from a woman named Anastasia from Russia. Lovely name.

I took the 25 bus to school today. Much as I wanted to look at scenery again, I decided not to board a 617 bus which had arrived earlier. I needed to use my bus time to study Chinese.

What will happen tomorrow Chez Casa Kaulins? The Enfant Terrible (Tony) et moi will probably go out on the countryside to regardez the trains, or as the Chinese may well say: 看 火车。

Thursday [September 19]
[Home Laptop]
  • Mid-Autumn Festival. I don't work today. I go back to work tomorrow. Many workers and students get Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off, and then have to go back to work and school on Sunday. I will work the Friday and Saturday, and then get Sunday and Monday off.
  • Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations. A person I know posted this on We Chat! There is something wrong with this but I can't put my finger on it. By saying H = R – E, you are also saying that R = H + E. That is, Reality equals Happiness plus Expectations. You could also say that -E = H – R or E = R - H. That is, Expectations equals Reality minus Happiness.
  • I ran into Brian Drapes just as I was about to catch the 635 home. I got to know him from my unsuccessful attempt to run a softball team. He has got the life. One month in China and then a month in America.

I wrote the previous three points after midnight so technically they were part of Thursday. Here is what I have done in my real today so far. That is, my recap till now which is 13:30:
  • The K family was up at seven this morning, despite the fact that it was a holiday. The first thing Tony did was immediately grab hold of my Ipad and play Real Racing 3. The first thing I did was sit on the throne and try to figure out what it was that I was going to do with my free day. Alas, I realized it really wasn't free because I had to placate my wife. So I was torn between the need to do things around the house, the need to take of Tony, the urge to take photos for my Casa Kaulins blog, the requirement I put on myself to do some blogging, and the requirement I give myself to do some reading. What I did do was clean some of Tony's toys, fold up some dry laundry, upload Views of China from Casa Kaulins #21, take just two photos for the Casa Kaulins blog, set up train simulator on the laptop for Tony, get a fully charged e-bike from the basement of a parking garage, and have some breakfast.
  • While I was getting the e-bike, I saw that a group of hairdressers was giving haircuts near the security gate. I assume their salon was doing a promotion. I should have taken a photo of the four people who were taking advantage of the promotion. It was quite a sight.
  • Part of my need to take care of Tony was to get him out of the house. After doddling around the morning in the apartment during which I had thought of not going out, I did get Tony out of the apartment at 10:45. He was hell bent on going to the Wanda Shopping Plaza to buy a toy Ice Cream truck. I just wanted to take him for an e-bike ride around the area. I prevailed in this battle of wills because Jenny was finally able to make Tony realize that he was going to get what he wanted if he just had a little patience.
  • The path we took on our e-bike ride was basically rectangular with Casa K being at a point at the middle-bottom or south of the rectangle. We went past the Yanqiao rest stop on the freeway between Jiangyin and Wuxi. We went through some factory areas where we saw that workers were working on what was supposed to be a holiday. We saw two high-speed trains as our path intersected with rail track at two spots. We rode on a road past older factories in Jiangyin. We saw a truck with twenty workers in the back even though it was supposed to a holiday -- but then I remembered seeing groups of workers cutting grass and bushes on e-bike ride we had on another holiday in the same area. (Are there still Coolies in China?) In Yanqiao, we stopped at the Ruhui supermarket where I bought six cans of low-alcohol pineapple beer and Tony wasted three rmb of my money on arcade rides.
  • While we were in the supermarket, Jenny phoned to tell us she was heading to the Wanda Plaza. We were to meet her there but we first rode home first so I could drop off the cans of beer. At the Wanda Plaza, we tried a new restaurant, which in English, would have been called the number eight restaurant. Jenny ordered a simple group meal consisting of some fried cauliflower, breaded chicken wings, boiled fish, and fried pork. It was okay. Just. Tony was happy because Jenny had bought him the toy ice cream truck he had been begging for.
  • Things got interesting for me when I took Tony to the restroom. While there I ran into a foreigner who told me he recognized me from my blog. He was teaching at a school in Xi Shan for New South Wales University in what I understood to be a university prep program. We exchanged phone numbers and hopefully we will meet again soon. He had only been in Wuxi for a month.
  • I have been running into people the past few days... First there was Terry, and Brian and …..

It is now 10:00 PM.

After finishing their meal at Wanda's #8 restaurant, the K family returned to Casa Kaulins where they hung out till 3:30 PM. In that time, Andis did some blogging on the laptop before he had to give the computer to Tony who insisted on having it so he could watch videos. So Andis instead read a book on his Ipad but then got sleepy and took a short nap in the bedroom. Andis hated himself for not being able to concentrate on his book.

At about 3:30 in the afternoon, the K family then took the 617 bus before transferring to the 3 bus to get to Nanchang Jie where they strolled on that bar street browsing at some shops.

On the bus, Andis saw himself in a commercial. He took peeks at the screen when his head was facing the floor.

Andis also saw these three young men, with stylish haircuts, get on the bus. One of them wore a shirt with the words F*** O**.

At the start of Nanchang Jie, Andis & Tony saw a fifty foot tall figure advertising a Spanish beer called Mahou or Five Star. Andis then saw some swarthy looking Spaniards who seemed to be making preparations for a massive Mahou Beer promotion. Andis assumed the promotion was massive because there were signs everywhere advertising Mahou Beer. Andis asked himself if Mahou was Spain's version of Australia's Foster's and Canada's Molson Canadian – beers that aren't all that popular in their home countries.

Tony bought a bubble maker with soap, container, and wick in a shop that sold memorabilia with images of Elvis and Audrey Hepburn – there were also buttons for sale with the word “f***.” From the latter sight, Andis put two and two together and thought of the young man he had seen on the bus.

Then there was a restaurant with a military theme which had a machine-gun nest display by its entrance and, of course, Tony posed at the display for his mother and father to take photos.

Andis was feeling sheepish throughout the Nanchang Jie stroll because he had actually gotten his wife to agree to go to the Indian Restaurant behind the Nikko Hotel. He wondered if his wife was going to protest about the price or the food.

When the sun set and evening set in, Andis kindly coaxed Jenny & Tony to head to the restaurant. As they approached the restaurant, Andis tried to reassure himself that it was a good idea to go to the restaurant and that it wasn't going to be all that expensive. His order was going to be simple: butter masala chicken with basmati rice. But what would Jenny & Tony order? He had no idea, and he again fell to despair and felt it wasn't going to seem to have been a good idea.

But in they went. Looking at Ganesh's menu, Jenny made a comment about it being expensive and not knowing what to order. This struck a little fear in Andis but he felt relieved to see that at least what he wanted to order was cheap. Then, Jenny saw a group set meal and thus the problem of what she would order was solved. Andis had his butter chicken masala and was happy though he had to share it with Jenny and Tony. Jenny ordered some Cheese Nan, Himalayan Soup, Shrimp and some roast chicken. Andis happily ate his portion. Tony and Jenny didn't seem enthused but the food but they weren't mad about it so Andis felt some relief.

Much to Andis's annoyance, Tony was very interested in the billiards table that was on the restaurant's main floor. Tony had played billiards on the Ipad, but in real life, he had no idea how to hold the cue, and he just pushed the balls into the pockets.

Leaving Ganesh's, the K family had to go through Nanchang Market where there were a lot of people because of the holiday. Seeing the crowds, Andis became glad that to have gone to Ganesh's because the place was quiet and a nice refuge from all the people.

Friday [September 20]
[School Laptop]
I work 11:00 to 21:00 today. I feel strange coming back to work after my one day holiday.

I am annoyed with myself because I forgot to bring up the e-bike from the underground where it had been charging. I had promised my wife that I would do this for her.

I really should do a bit of research for the classes I do. Sometimes, I can prep just by using the information I can gleam off the top of my head.

Tony is not going to school today. Last night, he fell asleep watching television. It made for a nice picture at my Tony Kaulins in China wordpress blog.

Till I get a haircut, hopefully my next days off, I will come my hair forward, Julius Caesar style.

The Trattoria Ferrara Restaurant, or as I called it the Italian restaurant that's near my school, is closing down. The location ultimately did them in. Having been around nine years, I have seen that location kill many a business. It is on a side street just a little bit too far away from the Zhongshan Road pedestrian traffic. I became disenchanted with the restaurant when its original management moved on to some other ventures. The reason I mention this is that I got an email about it from a visitor to my blog, from Monaco of all places.

Saturday [September 21]
[School Laptop]
Memo to myself: don't take the 617 and 3 buses on a Saturday morning. You end up standing half the way there, even if the view is nice.

I was approached by another foreigner this morning. This time because he saw me in the commercial being shown on the bus television. “You look better in person than on the television!” he told me. I don't know how to take that.

Last class of the day, the 17:00 to 18:00 with two boys of high school age, was annoying. One of the students just wasn't prepared and I should have failed him but I just want to get on with my weekend.

I meet Jenny and Tony at school at the end of my shift. We ate at a nearby noodle house and then took the bus home. Tony kept on muttering about playing with the Ipad. I eventually barked back at him.

Sunday [September 22]
[Home Laptop]
I don't work today but Tony goes to school. This is because of the National Day holiday that is coming on October 1 and the powers-that-be rearranging days off so the people can get October 1st to 7th off. So, Tony will be going to school from Sunday to Friday [the 22nd to the 27th], then will get a day off on Saturday [the 28th], and go back to school on a Sunday and a Monday [the 29th and 30th] before getting seven days off [October 1st to 7th]. My holidays won't coincide with his. I will get the 29th, 30th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th off. I have to go to work on a Friday and Saturday [the 4th and 5th]. 看得懂吗?Comprendre? ¿Entiendes?

No plans for today other than doing some blogging and watching a movie on my Ipad.

I began watching Duel in the Sun with Joseph Cotten and Gregory Peck on Friday night. The acting by one Jennifer Jones seems overwrought, but it I suppose it takes some skill to be overwrought facially while riding a horse. The movie was made by the studio that make Wizard of Oz and so it is a visual treat at times, even if it is clearly flawed. I would love to be able to dress up like the Joseph Cotten character who wears a cowboy hat, elegant boots, sleek corduroy riding pants, a dress shirt, string tie, and a riding jacket.

In the afternoon, I took the e-bike to the grocery store in Yanqiao to buy some pineapple beer, and had a most pleasant shopping experience. The store was practically deserted except for staff and a few customers. I assume the store was not crowded for two reasons: 1) the competition from Tesco and the Wanda Plaza grocery store. 2) The fact that this Sunday was like a Monday with most people at work or at school.

I finished watching Duel in the Sun. The movie, though made by the studio that produced Wizard of Oz, is really more in the vein of Gone with the Wind, and in fact, the studio that made Duel had also made Gone with the Wind. Referring to the Wikipedia article about Duel, my suspicions were confirmed when I read that the producers of Duel had hoped to make a second Gone with the Wind. Instead the studio probably produced one of the first examples of a movie being advertised as being made by the makers of a previous hit movie. Duel tried to have many elements of Gone with the Wind. It had a female character who attracts many strong male characters. So it tried to be a chick flick. Duel was made on an Epic scale. It was meant to be an Epic Western as GWTW was meant to be a Civil War epic. There was a scene in Duel where there must have over 200 horses and riders. Most Westerns get at most ten or twenty horse and riders in a shot. There were hundreds of extras in other shots as well. Like GWTW, Duel was shot in glorious technicolour so it must have been a joy to see in the cinema. Unfortunately, the female character in Duel, played by Jennifer Jones, didn't have the strength of character of Scarlet O'Hara. Jones' character was that of a woman stupidly in love with a bad man. Jones' acting was worthy of parody. But the movie was not so awful. I'd give it three stars our of four. Cotten and Peck gave good performances.

I was able to finish watching the movie before the enfant terrible came home from school. Jenny now has him doing homework. I will bystand. Tony's griping and moaning about doing his homework and Jenny's high standards are things I don't have the stomach to witness or deal with.

After supper, I took Tony to the playground in the central park. I walked there while Tony brought his push-bike. We first went down a street that had about fifty shops, offices, and restaurants. I enjoyed being able to watch the street's activity for there was so much of it. No where in Canada would you be able to find a street so bustling. On this obscure Wuxi side street, I saw many people getting haircuts, many children playing, many adults eating and drinking, many woman dancing, and people sitting and talking. Past the bustling street, we were at the park which was dark and where it seemed to me that most of the parents had probably already taken their children home. I didn't mind one bit that the park was empty because Tony seems to want to get in trouble when there are other children around. But when Tony saw that the park was empty, he said there were no boys there and that he wanted to go home. There was no point in arguing with him. Trying to take a round about way home got Tony angry and he actually tried to block me from going down a path that he didn't want to go down.

Back at home, Tony & I took a shower – something we always do after returning from a trip outside.